I’ve been working away at my last regular class for my M.A. in English at NAU…just the capstone class after this and I’ll have my Master’s degree! This week, I had to put together an extensive brainstorm map of ideas related to a specific problem and it got me thinking about and searching for good online tools for brainstorming and mind mapping. I found a few I like that I think you might also want to try.
The one I used for my class is called BubbleUs, and if you set up an account, it is free. I like that it is simple to get started, colorful, and easy to export when you’re done by saving / exporting an image of your project.
If you want something a little more complex with extra features such as the ability to add pictures and drawings to your brainstorm, check out Dabbleboard, where you can begin with a free account and upgrade to a pay account later if you like. This one is fun for freehand drawing and sharing is easy too. You can download your saved brainstorm as an image or copy a link to your idea map and share using the Dabbleboard chat function but you have to sign up for these features by creating and account.
In the Classroom
It seems every year more students come to me with the problem of “I don’t know how to get started,” especially with writing. A number of old-school approaches can still work…free writing with pen and paper about the topic, making lists, even drawing doodles to get the gears turning. But more often than not these days, I find students are more prolific at both discovering an idea and developing it in their writing when they use a computer. Next time you assign an essay or a large project, why not have your students go online to produce an idea or “mind map” with one of these great tools? Students can be paired by topics and collaborate to share ideas by sharing their idea maps. You can then have each student in a pair write about the same topic but from a different angle.
Here are a few other online brainstorming tools I found: