Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Think Inside the Bubbl

If you have not yet seen this interesting little tool, take a minute to check out bubbl.us, a free, online, flash-based idea-mapping application. The "Features" page does an excellent job of using bubbl itself to explain the basics of the bubbl interface, which is both minimalistic and intuitive. As with most technologies, however, it's best to jump right in and start playing around, which thankfully you can do without having to create an account first.

Bubbl may seem at first glance to be yet another instance of technology making a simple pen-and-paper process exponentially more complicated. But account creation allows you not only to save, print, link to, export, and embed your maps, but also to share and collaborate on them with other bubbl users, who may be given either read-only or full access. Unfortunately, the map is "locked" while one user is editing it, so users cannot collaborate in real-time, a restriction similarly imposed by most wiki platforms.

I can see bubbl having a variety of pedagogical uses, both individually and collaboratively, both inside and outside the classroom. From teaching brainstorming in composition courses, to having students collaboratively trace the genealogy of the novel, to providing a graphic representation of intertexuality or patronage networks to accompany a lecture or in-class discussion, potential mapplications of bubbl abound.

P.S. According to their blog, the administrators of bubbl are working on adding features and modifying the user interface prior to a beta release in the next couple of months.

P.S.S. You may also want to look at Mindomo and Mindmeister, two other mind-mapping apps.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Erin Sells said...

Thanks for this post, Shawn. I assigned my first novel mapping project in Eng 341 this semester, and in their reflection papers on the process almost all of the students wrote that the major drawback to the assignment was the steep learning curve for Google Earth, and the difficulty of using it collaboratively. I was pleased with their maps and they seemed to enjoy the assignment as well, but I have been looking for better programs to use the next time around.

I'll be presenting a paper on my Google Earth/Mrs. Dalloway experiences this semester at the Woolf Conference this summer, so I'll be sure to play with bubbl before I go.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Michael E. said...

This actually impressed my wife, who thinks that most workshops about technology and pedagogy are just a chance for professors to play with their iPods.

9:20 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

This is a very cool tool. It's too bad that there are ads next to it...but those are the breaks, I suppose.

10:01 AM  

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