Tools for visualising thinking

The Infobrarian is not happy … sometimes size does matter!

I’ve just been playing around with this week’s activities in the #VicPLN – Tools for visualising thinking, AKA useful web apps for getting thoughts out of your head and onto a page where other people can admire them. Or not.

Tool #1   Wallwisher

This is a great online tool, perfect for brainstorming sessions when the person responsible for the butcher’s paper and crayons has forgotten them. It’s also good for staff meetings, or any time a group of people need to leave short messages or comments. Short, because every sticky note added to the active window has a 160-character limit. That’s great for Haiku planning, but a bit underpowered for your next doctoral thesis.

Wallwisher could be useful for service departments that get a lot of simple requests: each one could be posted to the job wall, then removed when resolved. The IT help desk would love it, because as we all know, most requests can be shortened to things like:

broken keyboard, library PC 32

staffroom copier needs black toner

email down. again.

staff server scheduled upgrade Monday 9 am

Size Issue #1   Wallwisher usernames can only be 10 characters long. So who am I?

Infobrrian     Infbrarian     Infobraria      Infoarian?

What am I? Not happy!

Tool #2 Essay Map

This is a great tool for helping writers get a bit of structure, and forces them to make a few notes about:

  • An intro
  • Three main ideas
  • Supporting points for each idea
  • A conclusion

Size Issue #2   The topic can only have 25 characters!  That sort of rules out all those great two-part titles so popular with academics, like:

Strategies for evaluating information visualization tools: multi-dimensional in-depth long-term case studies

I tried to think of a few possible essay topics, and kept running out of characters. Imagine the problem this would be to someone like Stephen Covey if he wanted to use Essay Map to plan his “7 Habits”  books. All the titles would have to be the same:

The 7 Habits of Highly Eff    

My main grumble about Essay Map is that it isn’t really a Web 2.0 tool. It needs to be interactive, and that’s one of the great features of the last two tools.

Some Happier News and Gliffy projects can be shared and edited by a group, so are interactive and part of the  read-write web.

The best thing about is that it is simple, fast, and allows collaboration.  OK, it’s missing lots of the features of  programs like MindMap and Inspiration – but it is free, and always available. I was part of a group where the minutes were taken live in, and we could edit/expand points later.

Gliffy takes a little longer to master, but has templates for all sorts of charts, plans and mapping. There’s even a plugin to import Gliffy objects to WordPress!  Yes, I should try it. Maybe tomorrow …


1 thought on “Tools for visualising thinking

  1. Pingback: Week 4: Learning and Teaching Tools | Reading in Redcastle

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