Online tools and environments
Intel® Education provides three excellent, free online interactive visual thinking tools and supporting resources. The tools can be used to encourage students engaged in inquiry and problem solving to think beyond the obvious, to find connections and justify their ideas.
Register and enter students for access to the tools and to an online space for thinking maps in progress. Students can store and retrieve maps online, share maps and work collaboratively. You can assess and provide feedback on maps online.
Building Up Reading and Thinking Skills - an example of how middle years students use the three thinking tools to build up reading and thinking skills as they analyse a real-life story.
Exploratree is a free, online application with 23 ready-made thinking guides or graphic organisers. You can also customize the thinking guides or develop new ones from scratch.They include online versions of:
- Lotus diagram
- Compare and Contrast
- Traffic Lights
- planning templates
Students can complete thinking guides online. You can also print them out or email them. Register on Exploratree to save, retrieve, add to thinking maps and set up groups so that students can collaborate on maps. See Exploratree
Visualising thinking software
Through visual thinking maps or diagrams, students can extend and test their thinking, identify connections between ideas and build new understanding across VELS domains at any level. ICT enabled concept mapping and mind-mapping software allows students to create visual representations of their thinking which can be built on and modified over time. Some of the ways students can use this software are:
- at the beginning of a topic to show their current understanding
- to summarise topics
- to think creatively about a problem or issue
- to plan an extended task
- to organise an ongoing digital bank of evidence of their learning.
Inspiration allows you to create, save, retrieve and revisit concept maps, mind-maps and other graphic organisers. Students can build up a visual representation of their thinking in a particular subject or area of learning over time. Students and teachers can use the ready-made thinking templates or create their own templates.
You can add video and sound to your Inspiration maps, and export them to handhelds and interactive whiteboards (IWBs).
Kidspiration is specifically for the Early Years.
Inspiration and Kidspiration are included in the Department's Software - Software for Education program: See Inspiration and Kidspiration.
Mindmanager is visual thinking software with a focus on mind-maps. It can include audio and video content and link to other software. Mindmanager can be used for collaborative brainstorming and analysis.
Web-based mindmapping tools
There are many mind-mapping web applications that enable students to work collaboratively on a visual thinking map. See Mind Mapping Tools. Some are free including:
- bubbl.us - a simple, user-friendly web application where you can create, store, share and collaborate on mind-maps online. Registration is required.
- CMap Tools - free downloadable tools to construct concept maps. See links to directions for , research and other information about the tools.
- Freemind - a free mind-mapping application that you can download at no cost. You can save, retrieve, and modify mindmaps, and present them in a range of formats. They can also be uploaded to wikis.
- mindomo - a web application that allows you to create and share mind-maps with others. A basic account is free, but you need to register to use it.