Cmap Tools

We’re going to work with concept mapping in the first part of the course, and we’re going to use Cmap Tools to do it. It’s a free download developed by the Institute for Human & Machine Cognition, which is part of the Florida University system. It is a very powerful tool for visualizing complex ideas. Support documentation and help videos are available on the site as well.

We will talk about this on Tuesday, but it would be good for you to download it and install it on your laptops ahead of time. Take the opportunity to play with it a little too.  There are a few reasons for using this tool.

Visualization is a good technique for understanding and conveying complex information. You are all going to be summarizing several articles. A concept map would be a good way of presenting that information at a glance. It should help you think about how the readings break down and tie together, and it should give your classmates a quick picture of what you’ve found out.

Since you will be doing three articles each on two different topics, you will do two maps, one for each topic. Each map should show a breakdown of each of the three readings, and whatever connections you can find between them. Here is one example from the spring semester. This person only found the articles connected through the main topic, but what’s nice about this is that it shows a detailed dissection of each article and it links out to further information.

The map below pointed out commonalities between the three articles. The person also used some color-coding to distinguish between the articles. Linking back to the original articles, or to the summaries, would have made this map even more powerful.

Through mapping out the concepts in your two sets of readings, you should start to develop a sense of how they relate to each other. This should help you out when it comes to doing the panel presentations in the coming weeks. As a group, we are all going to get a sense of how all the different pieces fit together into how we understand the Internet.

Another thing you can do with the concept maps is look for gaps or areas for further exploration. Those might be good ideas for the group presentations in the latter part of the semester.

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