Most of us are visual learners. As such, here are few mind-mapping tools to consider as you brainstorm and develop your digital stories.

  1. Inspiration – This is the mind-mapping software of choice among k-12 educators. The company has done an excellent job building a community around the software, resulting in tons of great ideas and resources for using it in a school setting. Apart from that, I use it for brainstorming at different stages of writing. The fact that you can embed images allows you to use thumbnails of pictures that you eventually plan to incoroprate into a digital story. Check out their site for examples. Price: $40-60 (based on a few sites that I scanned)
  2. Free Mind – This is free and has many of the great features that I enjoy in Inspiration. It doesn’t have the educational community surrounding it, if that is an important factor for you. It also allows embedding images in your mind-maps, but it might require a little HTML knowledge to deal with formatting. It also doesn’t look as pretty as Inspiration, but it is still my mind-mapping tool of choice when I am brainstorming for a web design, unit plan, digital story project, instructional design project, etc.
  3. If you already have Microsoft Office on your PC, you might just have a copy of Microsoft Visio, another tool that is full of templates and can work for mind-mapping a digital story. Where Inspiration has an education feel to it, and Free Mind has that Open Source earthy feel, Visio definitely has a business suit and tie feel to it. This is just a personal quirk, but that formal suit and tie experience gets in the way of the creative process. But once I get a few images, shapes, and words on the screen, I am usually able to add a little tie-dye to the suit.
  4. Of course, a box of markers, a glue stick, prints of your photos, and some butcher paper can be a blast and even more effective. This is especially true if you are working on a group project! If you want to keep track of things, you can always take digital photos of the butcher paper after you are finished brainstorming.
  5. Another option that adds the bodily-kinesthetic experience of actually writing things out by hand would be an interactive whiteboard or a Tablet PC connected to an LCD projector.
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About Bernard Bull

Dr. Bernard Bull is an author, host of the MoonshotEdu Show, professor of education, AVP of Academics, and Chief Innovation officer. Some of his books include Missional Moonshots: Insights and Inspiration for Educational Innovation, What Really Matters: Ten Critical Issues in Contemporary Education, The Pedagogy of Faith (editor), and Adventures in Self-Directed Learning. He is passionate about futures in education, educational innovation, alternative education, and nurturing agency and curiosity.