Mindmapping/Brainstorming tools are no longer just tied to the software on the computer (loved kidspiration and Inspiration back in the day). This software lacked important components, communication and collaboration.

Many free online tools have emerged that can do what the old software does and provides an opportunity to integrate more of the 21st century skills we should expose our students to. These online tools can help model communication and collaboration while giving the students access to this online resource at home, where they can control their pace/learning. 

Here are a few of my favorite online mindmapping/brainstorming/collaboration tools that are free.

  

GoogleDrive – docs.google.com


Many of us have experienced the collaborative nature of working on a Google document simultaneously with a colleague. We might have been only adding text and not taking full advantage of the tool. With any Google document, you can insert tables, images and drawings to support the need to present more of a visual representation (mindmap) of what students are thinking and planning.

 

Pros: All students will soon have a Google Account and can easily share with classmates.

Con: Can be confusing to work with larger groups (more than 4) at one time. There  tends to many options, menus to either get lost in or distracted by.

Suggestions: Provide a template of a graphic organizer to get them started. Can upload a graphic organizer or draw one.  

Is it Mobile?: Students can access and edit using the Google Drive app on all devices.

  

ConceptBoard- conceptboard.com
This resource (from a team in Denmark) provides many tools for creating a mindmap. 


Pros:
Can create a public board that kids can join as a guest. There are just enough tools to get the job done…very few extras to distract. 

Cons: Can be confusing to work with larger groups (more than 4) at one time. 

Suggestions: May want to start using this with one assigned ‘driver’ at first. While one student ‘drives’ the other students work together to navigate the system.

Is it mobile? Yes, conceptboard  can be accessed on any device through the Internet browser.

Check out this tutorial created by a group of teachers I worked with this summer. For more videos >>>

 

Realtime Boardhttp://realtimeboard.com/

Is a new online application (created by a Russian team) that was recently shared by Richard Byrne @freetech4teachers.com. This resource is very similar to Conceptboard with some great features.

Pros: Easy to use interface. Includes tools, like the link tool, that make it easier to create a mindmap. Also includes a presentation option. Connects to Google Drive.

Cons: Students will need to have an account (or a shared account) to access a public board.

Is it Mobile? Not at this time. Does not work on an iOS device and does not have an app.
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These are three of my favorite. What online mindmapping/brainstorming resource have you integrated into your instruction? Please share in the comments section.

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