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Friday, October 15, 2010

Brainstorming Online

During our recent inservice, many of you experienced the frustration, excitement, or overhwhelming chaos of sharing a document and having multiple users try to type on it at the same time. Granted, we did some exercises in very large groups, and quickly learned a great deal about potential management problems. A quick solution to that problem is to share with less people. But what if you want to brainstorm with a whole class full of students?  There are a few online applications that could help. One is wallwisher, billed as "a new way to communicate."  It looks and acts like a real bulletin/notice board. Visit the site for more information, or to take a look at some samples. Here's one screenshot that shows you the interface:

You can also visit this blog to read one person's review of the service and how/if it can be integrated for educational use.

Another application to consider, if you're a visual learner like me, is Webspiration. This is the online version of the popular Inspiration software, where users create mind maps and outlines to organize their thoughts or research. Webspiration allows collaboration, so you can create a mind map and invite others to edit it with you. Brainstorm together! Each user has to create their own account to access shared documents, but now that our students have school email addresses, they could be encouraged to start creating online, educational accounts tied to their "professional" address.  Webspiration is currently in beta testing, so accounts are free. I assume the day will come when schools would need to pay for access, but when that time comes, we will compare the costs of software licenses (that we currently own and have Inspiration installed in some locations on campus) with the web-based version. Screen shot below:

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