Concept mapscain2010 v2


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This was my presentation on concept maps and visual pedagogy for the 2010. Global Education Conference. This presentation expands upon my previous presentation. Please feel free to use this work in

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  • Welcome to the online version of my presentation on concept maps and brainstorming workshop. I am sorry my title is so abstract. It reads a little theoretical and yet as an instructional designer I find nothing quite so useful as pedagogy. Novak and Canas, in their paper “The Theory Underlying Concept Maps” discuss the psychological foundations of concept maps. In this very lucid paper, they talk about children learning by recognizing regularities and patterns in the world and then using language to find meaning in those patterns. So we are going to talk about concept maps but also about pedagogy and the connections between how we learn, organize and communicate information visually.
  • Here is my presentation as a concept map. It is ever evolving. I am presenting with slides because that is the easiest tool for me to use with Elluminate.
  • A graphical representation of thought processes can be applied to nearly any kind of analysis. They are used for everything from using clusters for essay pre-writing to food pyramids. Concept mapping is an important step in discovering ideas and connections. When students sit down to write out a solution to a problem, they are often hung up on the linear process and mechanics of writing. Concept mapping is a more accurate way of representing the connections of ideas. Concept maps can reveal a student’s previous knowledge of a subject and allow them to represent the incorporation of new ideas. Also, if you are in a brainstorming session, a concept map can be an ideal way to organize the ideas. I have used concept maps as pre-writing activities in my English classes to not only help students organize an essay but to diagram their understanding of something they have read.
  • This chart by Lawrence Lo shows the evolution of Chinese writing. This shows the transformation of a written language from ideographic to what Lawrence Lo calls “logographic” that is, as opposed to ideographic the combination of symbols write out words and ideas rather than just give us a drawing of the object. There are examples of such transformations all around the globe in the writing of Egypt and Phoenicia and the pictographs of the New World.
  • In Classical Greece and Rome through Renaissance Europe, the science of memorization included systems where the learner would visualize a castle or a town and associate and place the information being memorized in different parts of the image. There seems to be a natural propensity for humans to name, categorize, and sort things and ideas.
  • Humans have an acute visual memory and current research suggests that memories are constructed and held not only in parts of the brain used as storage but in the neural receptor cells as well. This means that creating visual cues such as concept maps can contribute significantly to memory and learning. The first picture is Ramon Llull’s Tree of Knowledge from Porphyry and the second picture is Llull’s representation of Aristotle’s categories.
    Images from the
    Centre de Cocumentacio Ramon Llull. Selected Illustrations. “Tree of Logical Relations” and “The Breviculum – XII minatures”
  • Here is the same interpretation of the illustration of Porphyry. “In the third century AD, the philosopher Porphyry wrote a commentary on Aristotle's categories, which contained the first recorded tree diagram. The version…illustrates the categories and their relationships to syllogisms, which are Aristotle's rules for reasoning about types and subtypes.”
    Image: “Building, Sharing, and Merging Ontologies” by John F. Sowa,
  • Humans understand the world metaphorically. The zodiacal man is a mirror of what is happening in the world. But I also think that in associating the houses of the zodiac with different parts of the body, and the different zodiacal groupings with the four elements, these images take on a mnemonic function.
    King Wen. “Bagua”
    Zodiacal Man. Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, 1413.
  • Hans Memling – We think of art as capturing a moment in time. Pre-literate Europeans such as Hans Memling would often depict a series of events arranged in a single landscape. In this painting, we see Christ in the garden, the arrest, trial and crucifixion etc.
    Memling, Hans. “Scenes from the Passion of Christ”
  • There are so many different relationships that emerge from this image that I only started a couple to suggest the directions one might go. It is my contention that the linking of images and ideas in art is the visual pedagogy inherent in the mind. Teaching can take advantage of this pattern-making ability in humans which is also a language and writing ability to transfer information.
  • A single location is given but events that occur are given different localities in the greater image. The painting itself becomes a mnemonic device for the concepts and doctrines of the Passion.
  • Even small details reveal a greater relation so the whole as this cock looks like it is about to crow.
    My point behind all of this is that patterns emerge in all of this art and it is the same patterns and narrative structures that emerge in concept maps and more seemingly abstract forms of visual communication.
  • There are certain things that images can tell us that words just can’t. These are two examples of complex ideas being communicated with very simple drawings. It would have taken pages for Leonardo to tell us what he meant by “flight” with words that he could just show us in images. The same goes here for Darwin in his notes on species and genus. The words on top of this drawing by Darwin read “I think” and he finishes the thought with a drawing.
    Darwin, Charles. (1837) Darwin’s first tree of life diagram from his 1837 notebook.
    DaVinci, Time & Life Pictures. Getty Images. Jan 01, 1900
  • From the Navaho sand paintings to the Tibetan mandalas, people have been using images to express complex ideas. And not just single concepts but representations of change through time as this Tibetan mandala suggests.
  • In these two pictures by Matt Mullican, we see the techniques of concept mapping or mind mapping used in such a way that is so personal it might be divorced from meaning or they become commentaries on human sense-making. According to Spears in the New York Times, his work asks “How can thoughts and emotions be communicated visually?”
  • There are many kinds of concept maps just as there are many ways that the mind connects and discovers ideas. These seven are just a few of the kinds of representation that can be used; there are many others. The kinds of problems being solved or analyzed should determine the kind of concept map used and what should be integrated into the map. The different kinds of maps can shape the kinds of answers you may find.
  • Continuums can include time lines, scales, and simple bar graphs that show change over time.
  • Clustering includes many kinds of concept maps including spider charts and organizational charts.
  • Fishbone maps are useful for organizing the details of a cause and effect. One of the reasons I am listing just a few of the ways that information is presented is to encourage you to not let the typical use of any tool determine how you present information.
  • Cycle maps are most often used to discuss processes. My point is that all of these ways of expressing relationships are used in concept maps and other tools for teaching and learning as well has art. These methods tap in to the way the brain seeks to organize the world with language.
  • Venn diagrams can be great tools to use in a classroom to get students to think about classes of objects. The instructor does not have to fill this in but uses this chart to gather answers from the class. Any of these charts can be used this way.
  • Shape charts can be used to talk about the components of an idea. Here, three important aspects of online learning are discussed. Like the Venn diagram, any shape like this can be used to have the class fill in by answering questions.
  • I just wanted to give some suggestion of how graphic visualization is used in the classroom. The grand daddy of taxonomies here belongs to Lengler and Eppler with their “Periodic Table of Visualization Methods.” It is worth exploring because any one of these graphic representations of information can become part of a concept map.
  • Here is a fully-fleshed out concept map that contains descriptive connections. There is a lot of discussion on the internet about the differences between concept maps and mind maps. When one gets down to examining the outcomes of the two, they are often quite similar. There is a formal definition of concept maps from Novak and a definition of mind maps from Buzan.
  • This is what is typically called a “mind map” using Buzan’s ideas of combining color and line size to suggest relationships to ideas. Mind maps are often used in brainstorming ideas and note-taking. They are often of an informal or personal nature.
  • Assignments using concept maps can be very powerful experiences with students. Assignments such as having the students create a glossary of important terms and then entering those terms into a concept map showing the relationships between items are ideal small group projects. In software like Cmap, students can link items to anything on the net. Giving students individual roles in group projects help ensure the success of the groupwork. The instructor can utilize the “record” feature of Cmaps and see how the map was constructed over time and who contributed to it. Novak suggests that students begin with a concept map and then expand that same map as their knowledge of a subject grows over time. These maps would make ideal assessment tools.
  • Again, the media that you use will determine the appropriate technology. A pencil and paper is good for one or two people to use in brainstorming. The whiteboard or chalkboard present opportunities to have a student record the information while the instructor facilitates the discussion.
    My goal in showing tools and software is not to recommend one or another; it is to hint at the idea that what tool you choose can shape what you discover, learn, or communicate.
  • I always carry a notebook and pencil (much to the horror of my more technologically proficient friends and co-workers). This allows me to quickly sketch ideas out without having to thinking about internet connections and software, it is just the paper and me expressing the flow of ideas as they happen in a solo-brainstorming session.
  • When I take these ideas into the classroom, they become further refined with the input of the students. I can outline a lecture in a concept map and I can have the students add ideas and make the connections, making the lecture truly interactive. I can even have a student volunteer run the session.
    A good practice in the classroom is to ask the students for basic concepts of a topic and then, in the course of conversation, start linking the ideas together by circling them and drawing lines
  • Overhead projectors are becoming more and more sophisticated and they include not only the traditional acetate sheets but document cameras that allow instructors to bring students into the flow of thinking in a very intimate way. My notebook now becomes the focal point for our interactive lecture and encourages note taking skills with the students. Ironically, I can take a document camera and open my notebook with my students and talk about a concept map I began at lunch.
  • I can also use free software packages like Free Mind. This is handy because not only can we do everything we do in the classroom, I can give concept mapping assignments our to the students. One can also use PowerPoint or art programs to create concept maps but a good concept mapping software package should give you all the tools you need not just to create the diagram but to share it in different formats as well.
  • Cmap is another free software package and its definition of a concept map includes having to create terms for the connecting lines. This asks students to think of the connections between concepts as formal propositions. This in Novak and Carnas’ program and it is the only one that I know of that has so much direct research applied to its creation. Their paper is a must read. This can also be used collaboratively online and the student can insert links to materials on the web.
  • Microsoft Powerpoint’s Smart Art feature allows you to create a concept map from an outline right on the slide.
  • Programs like Gliffy Online allow you to create concept maps right in your browser. Notice how in this example color is being used as an organization tool. I can also easily share this map with collaborators by clicking on the green “Collaborate diagram” button. I can then work with others on this diagram in real time or at the convenience of group members. I think collaborative concept map activities have a great potential for adding to the interactivity of an online class just as in-class brainstorming and concept mapping sessions do for a face-to-face class. I prefer using online programs like Gliffy because the diagrams are easy to share and can be saved to a blog or downloaded as a file. Also, most of the freeware software can be pretty rigid in defining a concept map or mind map. Gliffy is one of the more flexible.
  • Virtual representations in Personal Brain and Second Life also give us a chance to add the fourth dimension – the ability to show how ideas evolve over time. When I click on any of the words, Personal Brain moves that idea to the center – this software can be used to create highly structured, non-linear presentations. It is fully animated and the movement highlights the relationship between the nodes.
    We need more research into how 3-d spaces effect how we learn.
  • In virtual worlds like Second Life, experimenting with the spatial relationships of ideas is possible. Eloise Pasteur has created a tool called the “Spidergram Planner” that allows users to collaboratively build three dimensional concept maps.
  • I am currently working with Cmap because of the research associated with it. I use Gliffy because, in my experience, it is the easiest one to get students to collaborate online with. I have not used any of the others with students so if you have some experience with them, I would be happy to hear about it. You can use any technology from a pencil to a virtual world for generating concept maps. Any one of these tools can be a highly effective means of getting students involved in sharing their understanding of a topic, discovering new knowledge, and organizing complex ideas. My further research into this topic will include experimenting with dynamic animation to represent the change of ideas over time. Chuck Frey has a blog where he reviews all of the new software and I have him in my resources list.
  • This list here is just some of my reading in this fascinating topic, please contact with any questions you may have.
  • I really want to continue this conversation – I will be posting a version of this presentation to my blog. Feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions.
  • Concept mapscain2010 v2

    1. 1. Concept Maps & Visual Pedagogy By Geoffrey Cain, M.S. Director, Instructional Design College of the Redwoods
    2. 2. Concept Maps & Visual Pedagogy <ul><li>Some preliminary questions… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are you using concept mapping now? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are you using online cp with your students? </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Preview…
    4. 4. Why Use Concept Maps?
    5. 5. Roots of Concept Maps
    6. 6. Roots of Concept Maps
    7. 7. History of Visual Thinking
    8. 8. A Modern Re-Imagining
    9. 9. Cosmology and Metaphysics
    10. 10. Didactic Art
    11. 11. Didactic Art
    12. 12. Visual Narratives
    13. 13. Visual Narrative
    14. 14. History of Visual Thinking (cont.)
    15. 15. Cross-Cultural
    16. 16. Modern Art
    17. 17. A Taxonomy of Concept Maps <ul><li>Continuums </li></ul><ul><li>Clustering </li></ul><ul><li>Fishbone Maps </li></ul><ul><li>Cycle Maps </li></ul><ul><li>Venn Diagrams </li></ul><ul><li>Shape Charts </li></ul>
    18. 18. Continuums
    19. 19. Clustering
    20. 20. Fishbone Maps
    21. 21. Cycle Maps
    22. 22. Venn Diagrams
    23. 23. Shape Charts
    24. 24. A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods
    25. 25. Concept Map
    26. 26. Mind Map
    27. 27. Assignments
    28. 28. Technology of Concept Maps <ul><li>Pencil & Paper </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Notebooks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Large sheets </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Chalk or Whiteboard </li></ul><ul><li>Overhead Projector </li></ul><ul><li>Software </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative Software </li></ul><ul><li>3-d Concept Maps </li></ul>
    29. 29. Paper & Pencil
    30. 30. Chalk or White Board
    31. 31. Overhead Projector
    32. 32. Software
    33. 33. Software (cont.)
    34. 34. Software (cont.)
    35. 35. Collaborative
    36. 36. Three Dimensions
    37. 37. Second Life
    38. 38. Software Resources Cmap Tools Research-based tool. Great resource. VUE (Visual Understanding Environment) Visualizing and connecting information. MindNode Simple, free mind-mapping software that exports to many file formats. FreeMind Free java-based software. Personal Brain Dynamic 3-d software. $$ Inspiration Includes large image database. $ Web-Based Collaborative Gliffy Used in HIM101 class. Very flexible. Bubbl MindMeister This is like an online version of MindNode. Webspiration An online version of Inspiration. Diagrammr Create and share diagrams by writing sentences.
    39. 39. Resources <ul><li>Centre de Documentacio. (n.d.) Ramon Llull. Selected Illustrations. “Tree of Logical Relations.” Universitat De Barcelona. </li></ul><ul><li>--“The Breviculum – XII minatures” </li></ul><ul><li>Classroom Strategies: Concept Maps (2010) Adolescent Literacy. AdLit.Org. </li></ul><ul><li>Concept Maps: An Introduction to Concept Maps (n.d.) </li></ul><ul><li>Concept Mapping and Curriculum Design (2002) Faculty Development . Walker Teaching Resource Center. </li></ul><ul><li>Frey, Chuck (2010) The Mind Mapping Software Weblog. </li></ul><ul><li>Lengler, Ralph & Eppler, Martin J. (2010) A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods. Version 1.5 </li></ul><ul><li>Lo, Lawrence (2010) Chinese. AncientScripts.Com. </li></ul><ul><li>Margum-Leys, Jon (1999) “Types of Maps” Concept Mapping as a Prewriting Activity: A Presentation for MACUL 99. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Memories Are Made of This” (2008) PsyBlog: Understand Your Mind. </li></ul><ul><li>Novak, Joseph D. & Canas, Alberto J. The Theory Underlying Concept Maps and How to Construct Them. (2006). Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. </li></ul><ul><li>Research Publications (n.d.) Cmap Tools Publications. Selected list and links to papers. </li></ul><ul><li>Sowa, John F. (2009) “Building, Sharing, and Merging Ontologies” </li></ul><ul><li>Spears, Dorothy (2008) “Mapping an Imagined Order, Page by Page” New York Times. </li></ul><ul><li>Web Center for Social Research Methods. (n.d). Concept Mapping Resource Guide. </li></ul>
    40. 40. Let’s Talk! <ul><li>Email: [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Brainstorm in Progress </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter: geoffcain </li></ul><ul><li>Skype: geoffcain </li></ul>