This past week I made a determined effort to work a bit more with Bubbl.us in the classroom. What I like about it is the capacity for students to visualize their brainstorming efforts as well as connect their ideas. With this tool, students can add quotes where they see fit and color code different topics or categories. Students have the abilities to move the bubbles around, easily adding to or deleting portions if they see fit. This makes it easier to use, because as individuals brainstorm, their ideas are meant to evolve. As they do, they can easily adjust the mindmap without needing to erase or start over.
I used this in place of the traditional outline, simply because it affords students the freedom to express themselves without being stuck in a very structured format. I’ve read online how other instructors have replaced the outline with this type of mindmapping, and it’s improved student writing through a deeper development of ideas. I believe that once students see the connections, they can write more freely while including their ideas and required pieces of information, like supporting points or quotations.
I can see using this when writing papers or written responses. I also think it could come in handy when discussing in the classroom. While engaging in group discussions, one person could record the responses from their classmates on a mindmap on the Smartboard. This, again, could allow students to “see” their discussion in real time.
What I also like about Bubbl.us mindmapping that using pen and paper can’t do, is that it allows students to collaborate. I can separate students into groups and have them all work on the same mindmap. This kind of collaboration can allow ideas to develop through group thought and work. Likewise, it gives my quieter students the ability to give their input without feeling uncomfortable. Their ideas can be “heard.” This I really like. It also allows students to watch the topic develop in ways that they may not have considered themselves. To me, this is real learning.