Saturday, May 3, 2008

Turn and Face the Strange Changes

If you're a regular reader or subscriber to this blog you probably noticed a change this weekend. Thanks to some help from Amanda at Blogger Buster and Harold Shaw I altered the layout to accommodate three columns.

Having three columns makes the main text column a little smaller, but it does allow for more overall content to be "above the fold." I was beginning to feel like there was a lot of good information and resources being buried below the fold because the list of free resources had grown so long. Some people have asked why I don't use edu blogs or word press. The answer is simple, there are 400+ blog posts and 150+ resource links that I was afraid of losing or having to move manually. I am a practicing educator so blogging is a hobby, not a full time job. Moving 550+ items manually would be an multi day affair that I was not ready to undertake.

I am looking for feedback and comment on the new look. Do you like it? Do you hate it? What could I do to make this blog a better resource for teachers? Finally, thank you to everyone that has subscribed to the blog, reads the blog, and makes this blog fun for me to write. I genuinely appreciate every comment, email, link, track-back, and bookmark .

Mind Meister - Very Intuitive Mind Mapping

Mind mapping tools are great for students to use to organize their thoughts about a topic or create a story web for fiction writing. Unfortunately, many of the mind mapping tools that advertise themselves as having intuitive interfaces don't always intuitive interfaces. Mind Meister doesn't advertise an intuitive interface, but it has by far the most intuitive interface of any web-based mind mapping tool I've tried.

Mind Meister's
basic account is free and has all of the features that a teacher or student would ever need. With the free account users can collaborate with others, share via email or embedding, and download or export files. One of the features I really like is the ability to add active links to websites. The linking feature is a good one for students trying to organize their thoughts for a research paper. The intuitive piece of Mind Meister is in the creation aspects. To add a new topic or "idea box" users simply click the green "add" button. To remove an item click the "delete" button. Organizing the items with Mind Meister is a simple matter of dragging them to the position you want them in. Changing the size and type of text is as easy as changing the size and type of text in a word document.

Applications for Education
Mind Meister could be used by students to record and organize their ideas and resources for research papers. The ability to add active links to websites helps students keep track of their resources and how those resources will be used in their paper. Mind Meister is a collaborative tool so it's very useful for students who are working on a group project or presentation. The embedding codes provided by Mind Meister make it possible for users to include their mind maps as a part of a wiki, blog, or website.

Below is a simple mind map I made with Mind Meister.