This is me-now, Josh Krikke on Blogger. I hope you enjoy my reflections.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Module 4: Concept Mapping using Inspiration

Ever wonder how the brain organizes new information? Well, making a concept map using Inspiration Software could be considered a visual representation of how the brain encodes information. When you receive new information, your brain has to file it away and place it within an existing framework based on former knowledge and cross-linking of concepts. Concept mapping is a technique for visually representing the structure of information—how concepts within an idea are interrelated. It stimulates former knowledge and visualizes a framework for information to be organized. You see? The processes are so similar!

Some advantages of concept mapping in education include: it organizes and prioritizes student’s thoughts, it increases and expands creative efforts, it serves as a basis for projects and writing activities, it can link web resources to a student’s idea, it can be used for studying, it’s good for assessment because it reflects student’s thought processes, it’s a tool addressing different learning styles, and it gives students ownership of their perspectives. The only disadvantage that I see in concept mapping is it’s subjectivity. There is no single correct concept map so teachers need to create specific assessment rubrics to give students structure to their concept maps. Also, just a little modeling of concept map creation will help students stay on the straight and narrow. Guidelines in concept mapping are important so students connect concept mapping with understanding how elements of a concept fit and relate together.

In the classroom, I would use concept mapping to create brainstorming webs on writing ideas, to describe novel characters, to visualize plots in literature, to create essay outlines, and to make poetry skeletons. All these ideas are integrating ICT General Outcome C4 which states: Students will use organizational processes and tools to manage inquiry, and General Outcome C7 which states: Students will use electronic research techniques to construct personal knowledge and meaning.

I was personally impressed with all the practical uses of concept maps in education. It seems to me if concept mapping is similar to how the brain works, then students really ought to create concept maps and view their own learning process. What better way to make critical thinking so hands-on?