Regular readers of the 8 Blog know that I’m a big fan of concept mapping. Used in a classroom setting, concept mapping can help students develop higher order thinking skills by having them organize, analyze and group concepts they have learned. Students can start to make connections between concepts and begin seeing relationships between different ideas. Besides being a powerful instructional tool for students, concept maps can also be valuable assessment devices, allowing educators to examine student understanding and identify misconceptions that may exist.
While many different concept mapping applications exists (MyWebspiration, for example), Spicy Nodes offers some creative functionality that many educators may find useful. Spicy Nodes bills itself as “a way to visualize online information that mimics that way that people look for things in the real world” which I think is true for most concept mapping applications. The difference that Spicy Nodes offers, however, is a unique, easy-to-use interface and appealing final product. Similar to Prezi, concept maps created with Spicy Nodes are interactive which allows visitors to navigate through the map in a dynamic manner. To get a sense of what Spicy Nodes can offer, be sure to check out this simple example I created organizing the different levels of the SAMR Model.
Currently, Spicy Nodes offers a free option to educators who want to incorporate concept mapping into their classrooms. With its embedding option, the concept maps can be pulled into blogs, wikis or course management sites so students’ finished products can be shared with their classmates. For some help getting started, be sure to check out this Spicy Nodes tutorial.