Mind-Mapping Tools: bubbl.us
bubbl.us fits the qualifications I laid out in my first post: it’s fast, easy, and accessible. bubbl.us is probably the first tool I found on Diigo and used in my classroom. Even though I’ve come across and used other mind-mapping tools on the internet, I’ll be returning to bubbl this semester.
The biggest advantage bubbl.us has over other mind-mapping software is that you do not have to have an account to create and print a mind-map (also known as a concept map). This means students can get online, map the concept they have been assigned, and print
it out for you to grade. This is ideal for shorter assignments and it’s one less password and username students have to keep track of. For longer assignments and the environmentally conscious, students can create accounts and then “share” their maps with peers and teachers.
bubbl.us is also extremely user friendly. It has a very intuitive interface and students can jump in without a tutorial or instruction on how to use the program. The first time my students used bubbl, I told them to mess around with the program and see what they could discover. In less than 5 minutes, students had not only mastered the controls, but had shared tidbits and hints with each other.
My favorite part of bubbl is it’s lack of options. Other mind-mapping software programs have lots of images that students can choose to associate with various words. I’ve found that students spend more time trying to pick the perfect picture than doing the actual assignment. Bubbl only has bubbles. Granted, students can change the bubble’s color and text size, but that’s it.
TIPS FOR YOU
As you have your students work with bubbl, here are some tips to keep in mind.
- “FIT” centers the mind-map in the middle of the screen (useful for panicked students who think their whole project has been deleted)
- if students move a “parent” bubble, all the “child” bubbles will follow along
- the “Export” option allows students to download a picture of their map into Paint or a similar program (JPEG format) without creating an account
- groups of bubbles can be expanded or collapsed (just hit the (-) or (+) button on the bubble)
- putting the mouse cursor over the bubble without clicking lets you choose “move,” color, text size, “connect,” and “delete”
- click on a line or arrow to label or delete it
- keyboard short-cuts: CTRL+ENTER creates “sibling” bubble; TAB creates a child bubble
PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING
As a teacher, you know something works when students start applying it to other classes and situations. After introducing bubbl.us to my students, I saw a small handful start using it for notetaking and other projects for different teachers. But I knew that bubbl was truly useful when one of my students reported she had used it to help her decide which college to attend.
My recommendation for you is to check bubbl out, mess around with it, and apply it to a lesson you already have. When you introduce it to students, encourage them to experiment and discover the program’s tricks and limitations. If you have an interactive whiteboard, you might want to create a class mind-map first. If you have any ideas for how to use bubbl, please share!