Thursday, December 26, 2013

MindMup - Create Mind Maps and Save Them In Google Drive

For the next few days I'm taking some time off to relax, play with my dogs, and ski with friends. Rather than leave the blog dormant for a few days, I'm re-running some of the most popular posts of the year. 

MindMup is a free mind mapping tool that can be used online, with Google Drive, and on your desktop. MindMup works like most mind mapping tools in that you can create a central idea and add child and sibling nodes all over a blank canvas. MindMup nodes can contain text and links.

When you're ready to save your MindMup mind map you can save it to Google Drive, save it to your desktop, or publish it online. If you publish it online, you can grab an embed code for it to post it in a blog post or webpage. 

Applications for Education
I've often had my students create mind maps as an exercise in making visual connections between important concepts, events, and people in a unit of study. MindMup can be used by any student without the need to create an account. That makes it suitable for students who don't have email accounts to use. MindMup mind maps that are published online can be made into collaborative exercises. Consider starting a MindMup mind map with a central idea and then share it with your students to complete as a group.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Learn About Reindeer With This Collection of Media

BBC Nature has a collection of video clips, images, and articles about reindeer (or caribou). In the collection you can learn about how caribou have adapted to their cold environments, their range, and how they differ between continents. You'll also be able to learn about how some caribou have been semi-domesticated and herded by humans.


Unfortunately, not all BBC media is available for viewing in all regions of the world.

Some Handy Gmail Options You Might Be Missing

Gmail users, have you ever clicked "send" too soon and wished you could get your email message back? Do you find yourself writing the same basic email message many times throughout a day or week? If you're answer is "yes" to either of these questions then you should check out the "Labs" section in your Gmail settings.

In the "Labs" section of your Gmail (including mail managed as part of a Google Apps for Education domain) you will find more than a dozen features that you can enable. "Undo Send" is a Labs setting that will allow you to undo the sending of a message for up to 30 seconds after it has been sent. This Slate article has detailed directions for using Undo Send. "Canned Responses" is a Labs setting that allows you to save and send messages that you commonly use. You might use Canned Responses if you often send emails to students about office hours or you often respond to questions about assignment deadlines.

Some of the other Gmail Labs options worth trying are a calendar gadget, maps preview, and smart labels.

Before you fall in too deeply in love with any of the Gmail Labs features, remember that these are experimental features that could be removed by Google at any time.

The screenshots below show you how to enable Gmail Labs (click the images to enlarge them).

Step 1:

Step 2:

Infographic and Video from Nature - Wolf vs. Buffalo

Over the weekend I enjoyed watching an episode of Nature titled Cold Warriors: Wolves and Buffalo. The entire episode is available to view online. The video does an excellent job of telling the story of the challenges that face each animal during the winter. I found myself rooting for each animal at different times in the video. I will warn you that if you're a "softy" like me when it comes to animals, you may find yourself fast forwarding at times.


On the Nature website there is a nice infographic that compares the wolf and the buffalo. It's a good graphic for quickly gathering basic information about the two animals. I've included a small copy of it below. Visit this Nature page to get the high resolution version.

Christmas Dinner in Space - And How Astronauts Eat in Space

This afternoon I stumbled upon an old Smithsonian article about Christmas dinner and food in general on the International Space Station. The article is a series of questions from readers answered by NASA's Vickie Kloeris. In 2009 Ms. Kloeris managed the food systems on the International Space Station. The article is an interesting read, but check out the following two videos from the Canadian Space Agency to see how astronauts prepare and eat foods in space.