Bubbl.us is a web 2.0 tool that allows users to create mind maps and diagrams. It allows users to brainstorm ideas collaboratively together. Group brainstorming helps to encourage team collaboration, rich discussion, and communication skills. This tool is great to use with middle and highschool students. Bubbl.us is a great tool that can be used to help students to brainstorm their thoughts before completing a research project or writing a paper. This tool kind of reminds me of Kidspiration. However, with Bubbl.us, you don't have to worry about licensing and copyright issues.
To begin, a topic or main idea is entered into the "parent bubble". Then, ideas and thoughts are typed into color bubbles that are linked to the "parent bubble". Users can continue to add text bubbles which are color coded based on sub headings. To invite a friend to collaborate with you and add their ideas, you can add them by entering their email address and selecting the title of the "sheet" you want them to partcipate in. You also have the option of allowing friends to view or add to the sheet, or do both. Also, maps from different users can be combined.
This tool is simple and easy to use. You don't have to have an account to use this tool. However, users are required to create an account to save their work. It is free to use this tool. However, the application is flash based, so you need to make sure that you have the lastest Flash application installed on your computer. The one safety concern that I had with this tool is that students are able to type their first and last name, along with other personal information, when posting their work. So, if this tool is used in the classroom, students use may need to be monitored. Additionally, some other downfalls are: not having the ability to add images and commenting being difficult to moderate if alot of users are contributing their ideas. Here are two great tutorials for teachers, so they can get started with using this tool. The second tutorial is a Youtube video that you can view.
1. Bubbl.us- A Web App for Teachers
2. Bubbl.us: Brainstorming and Mind-mapping Online
Once diagrams and mind maps are made, they can be embedded into a wiki or a webpage for others to view. This tool can be used in the classroom for brainstorming, coordinating responsiblities during the early stages of a project. It could also be used in the classroom to teach writing skills, organizing team projects, or preparing for a debate. Other possible telecollaborative projects for the classroom could be mind-mapping vocabulary and ideas from a chapter of book, mapping science processes such as the Water Cycle, or mapping problem solving strategies in math.
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