A response to Mindmeister post

Howard Rheingold (twitter) inspired me to write the MindMeister post in socialmediaclassroom.com and reposnded in the text I’ve coloured brown. My reply is in black!

Online instigator, educator, offline gardener.
Location: San Francisco Bay Area

1. Each week a different student team will work with me on co-teaching that week’s theme. I will have met with the team a week in advance, and each team should have at least two weeks to prepare. In response to feedback from the students, I am going to give the teams a little more structure by telling them what I believe the main points of each reading are. Their mission is NOT to present a team book report, but to engage, provoke, facilitate, catalyze discussion of the texts and issues.

This is a good idea – but getting them to do it will be tricky. If they define a node on a mindmap you can collapse it (hide it) and question the audience as to what’s coming next. But this isn’t really where you want the mindmap is it? that’s in the next section.

2. At the end of the semester, I’m devoting an entire 3-hour class session to mindmapping the key themes and texts from the course. At first, I was thinking of having each teaching team map for the rest of us the theme they had co-taught. But I see you had students work on material they had not already worked on.

The elephant in the room here (for me) is to make new groups with a member of each of the teaching themes in it (numbers allowing). However, this would only really structure individual work linked by a hub in the middle. The problem you/we face is to get every student at some point to address the work of another student; amend it, admire it, appreciate/evaluate it. How you do this is not straightforward because of the necessary chronological dynamics – you can’t map the same thought at the same time except in two different places – there must be an action (creating a new node) and a reaction (amending the node text or adding a sub-branch to that node or it’s father).

My crude and simple solution to this problem was to allow my students instinct to develop a separate area of the map each, and then get them to switch areas for the adding of other material. This could be formatting, flags and number points, more nodes, less nodes, URLs of relevant websites, image links. The emphasis would be on the latter two because undisputably SOME learning would take place when searching the web for relevant info. The ultimate aim being the learning that is likely to take place at the final stage. I plan on asking them to then rate their work with numbers 1-5 on quality. 5 for a great link that shows interesting or importantevidence relevant to it’s node. Indeed, you could get yet another student to do this but we don’t want to over-egg the pudding.

There are many things you could do. I would try and find some principles to stick to. Get them bouncing off each other rather than just off the external resources. That way they have to work for each other; this motivates and stimulates activity. People behave themselves online.


  1. each student needs their own account – quick and easy to create
  2. you are limited to the number in a group because too many means not enough to do
  3. there must be some rules – in my classroom this is governed by small groups of four starting the maps in class so F2F discusiion can decide who is doing what
  4. if there are stages to the work like I have outlined above then they need to be set out at the beginning or someone might go and do it all upsetting the balance you are nurturing

3. I have the notion that after making the hierarchical map and breaking out all the themes, key ideas, links, that we would then make connections.

Ideally, I would like to let the students run freer with their mindmaps but they are not yet clever enough (16 & 17 years old). What would be a challenge is to break up everybody’s different map and bring them together as a final outcome. Potentially very exciting as you weigh one node against another and discuss which is more valuable.

Hope this helps. I am no expert, just exploring the learning that might be done with these tools.

A response to Mindmeister post

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