Concept Mapping: Using Bubbl

June 15, 2012

I love when I take the time to be involved in a new class, and I learn something right away!

As mentioned last week, I am taking a class on teaching infolit, and it is giving me some great ideas on how to involve my students more actively in the process.

Our first exercise involved using ACRL standards #1 and #2.  To involve the students and to demonstrate all the ways that concepts can be identified, I decided to do a quick concept-mapping exercise with the students.  My initial thought was to use the whiteboard and have a student do the writing. 

Concept mapping involves finding all synonymous and related terms to a topic and laying them out in the way that they are related.  Although this step takes time, it really helps the research process, as it gives the student the opportunity to broaden or narrow the search based upon the results in real-time, rather than just searching, not finding, and searching again without any knowledge of the appropriate terminology.  We often do not have time to do this in a “one-shot” class, but I think it may be useful to introduce depending on the assignment.

During the feedback section of the exercise, one of my peers alerted me to http://bubbl.us.   Here is an example:

http://bubbl.us/view/ff541/1e61bd/10snZvcJACSVc/

I like the idea of using Bubbl because:

  • It’s free
  • It is easy to read (better than a sheet of paper with pen scribbles!)
  • It is customizable (you can change the colors, and even upload documents if you upgrade the account)
  • Maps can be saved over time so that you can update and refer to them during the research process
  • Speaks to the students by using technology instead of the whiteboard
  • Helps to organize the search

There are many concept mapping generators available, both free and proprietary (here is a list  from Wikipedia.)

By showing students how words and concepts relate in a visual way, students can gain an understanding of the vocabulary related to their topics.  Instead of just searching a simple term or two and then being frustrated with the results, the students will have a list that they can add to as they read and discover new and related terms.  Added bonus: all they have to do is logon to get the concept map: no more misplacing of papers!

Add concept mapping to your teaching repertoire–you may find it engages students much more in the process!

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