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Develop your creativity with mental maps 2.0

2011  |  

mind-mapping_lWords, ideas, concepts, tasks, images or drawings ... Everything can be included in the design of mental maps, probably one of the tools which contribute most to the  development of our creativity. 






This technique, invented by the English scientist Tony Buzan, consists in a structured and classified representation of any type of information, using its graphic visualization in a diagram with a radial distribution. The centre of the diagram is occupied with a word or central idea and the elements of information are grouped and organized radiating from it according to their importance and relation. Arrows and colours have been a perfect ally to illustrate these mental maps on paper, as they facilitate the assimilation of the information they contain. 

Traditionally associated with the study and creation of summaries, the versatility of mental maps cannot be denied given the support they provide for learning. Even more so if we consider the recent explosion of online tools which made the creation of these maps and their application to different contexts simpler: presentations and reports, decision making, creation of new projects, problem solving, task distribution etc. Another positive aspect of these tools is that they permit the insertion of documents, videos, web links, animations, etc., both in the central idea and in the different nodes which radiate from it. This keeps the information organized and prioritized. Now it is possible to publish and share mental maps with other users via the Internet thanks to the options which these tools offer.   


Freemind is a free software tool which permits the insertion of images, backgrounds, web links, etc. in the different information nodes of mental maps. It also offers the possibility of exporting them in different formats (PDF, images, vector graphics, web formats) and sharing them on the Internet. Once it has been downloaded from the official page and correctly installed, we can create our mental map personalizing the nodes, changing their appearance, adding web links, local folders or executable files, relating the nodes with one another, etc. If you want to know more about this tool consult this complete tutorial from the ITE Technological Observatory. 

Another free and easy to install tool, Cmaptools, as well as all that is offered by Freemind, permits changing the icon for a link to a resource under a concept and adding a discussion list. Cmaptools also permits adding descriptive text notes to a map, in order to remember data which were not used during the initial creation of the map or comment or suggest something in the map to another person. This dynamic tutorial created by Eduteka or the other official page of the tool, will allow you to convert your mental maps into an authentic organized network of data. 

Mindmeister permits the creation of three mental maps in its free version - it offers other versions according to the recipients, but all have to be paid for -. We mention this tool because of its highly collaborative character, as the maps can be shared via email or through a secure link. The most interesting feature of this application is that the users can collaborate in the mental map in real time,  with different colours showing the interventions of each participant, and exchange opinions and ideas using the chat they have available. It also possesses a very intuitive interface and measures to guarantee the security of the data contained in the maps. The existing help centre on the official web page offers solutions to the doubts that you may have when creating your maps. 

Bubbl.us is a completely online tool, which does not have to be downloaded or installed prior to use. You just have to register and you can create up to three maps in its free version. Consult this  video tutorial created by Educared to see the characteristics of this application and take note of the example of its use shown below. 

The last of this list of tools is Spicynodes. After registering on its web you can begin to create mental maps, specifying certain details, choosing the style of the interface and editing the contents in nodes of different levels. Finally you can pre-visualize the results, and obtain an HTML code to embed them in a web site or a blog. 

The fact is that mental maps have always been a recurring theme in education, play an important role in different pedagogical contexts and of course, can be of a great deal of use in eTwinning projects in a collaborative context. We can find examples of their use in the project Don't get caught in the net. In this case the Spicynodes tool was used to collect in an organized manner the tasks carried out by each one of the participating schools - two Spanish , one Portuguese and one Swedish - , both individually and collectively. As this tool permits the addition in each of the nodes of documents, images and sounds, it is really simple to visualize the phases, activities and results of this excellent project. As an example of the use of this tool, you can see one of the activity pages in the  project Twinspace.


In Celebrating eTwinning Football Across Europe one of the activities was carried out using this same tool. To be precise, the students had to research the lives of the most famous footballers in their country. In this way, the childhood, the sports career, the likes and hobbies etc., of these personalities were presented in different nodes which allowed the participating student to see the results in a clear and structured manner. Have a look at this mental map in the project Twinspace.


Mental maps have many applications in eTwinning, and can be used to design, develop and evaluate the projects, presenting the aspects to be considered and including in the progress report, the project proposal, the process of the partner teachers getting to know each other, the working project, the monitoring report, etc.  

Fuente imagen: Foter  

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