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