Using MindMeister for Mind Mapping in the Classroom

MindMeister Academic Edition

The Academic Edition of MindMeister is a complete collaborative mind mapping solution for educational institutions such as schools, universities and learning centers. It helps teachers and instructors to apply essential thought mapping elements in the classroom and ensure that learning is an effective and memorable experience.

After doing some researching and testing, I’m going to be using MindMeister for our “mind mapping” classroom (and out-of-classroom) sessions in my 8th grade science and 6th grade robotics classes this year.

I’m hopeful this will be a great augment to our classroom learning.

Powerpoint in the Classroom Must Die

His philosophy is that the information delivery common in today’s classroom lectures should be recorded and delivered to students as podcasts or online videos before class sessions. To make sure students tune in, he gives them short online multiple-choice tests.

So what’s left to do during class once you’ve delivered your lecture? Introduce issues of debate within the discipline and get the students to weigh in based on the knowledge they have from those lecture podcasts, Mr. Bowen says. “If you say to a student, We have this problem in Mayan archaeology: We don’t know if the answer is A or B. We used to all think it was A, now we think it’s B. If the lecture is ‘Here’s the answer, it’s B,’ that’s not very interesting. But if the student believes they can contribute, they’re a whole lot more motivated to enter the discourse, and to enter the discipline.”

In short, don’t be boring.

via chronicle.com

The part in bold is exactly my approach for student engagement. I admit that I do rely on Keynote too often, but I’m going to do my best to shift towards more engaging conversations pre-and-post lab work this year.

Looking back on my own education, I couldn’t agree more that PowerPoint is a classroom hindrance and security blanket for both teachers and students when used solely in the classroom.

Stunning Lack of 2.0 Teacher Tools on Web or iPhone


When I taught 8th grade science from 2004-2006, I made heavy use of MyGradebook and it eventually became (much to the delight of my students and their parents…and eventually administrators) my complete gradebook and student documentation platform.

What wasn’t to like? In 2004, the social web was just getting cranked up and folks were still becoming familiar with the idea of blogs…especially in the education space. What the students, parents, administrators and I realized is that everyone enjoyed being able to access grades, progress notes, lesson schedules and lab details via the web at anytime. Transparency and education do go hand-in-hand.

Fast forward five years to 2009. Not much has changed. MyGradeBook still seems like the most advanced platform for online grade/progress access. I even use objective-based grading and MyGradeBook supports that kind of customization, which is a great feature.

However (more like BUT), there is no iPhone app for MyGradeBook. There is actually only one iPhone app for teachers keeping grades. That’s a huge market not being served. Where are the developers? Charge me $20 or $30 and give me an app (even from MyGradeBook) that offers offline sync’ing, mobile grade/note inputs, etc… I’ll sing your praises all day long. It just doesn’t exist yet for some reason but there are a great deal of teachers, students and parents using iPhones, so that’s just unbelievable.

There are some solutions such as using FileMaker Pro’s Bento database on the Mac and porting a database over through Bento’s iPhone app. However, it still befuddles me that there’s not a better way to have that sort of access other than using an offline product and creating a database by hand a la 2001.

So, if there are any iPhone devs out there who’d like to make a few bucks… figure out a great way to make a web/iPhone app that brings the 2.0 goodness to teacher gradebooks. We’ll love you forever and make you rich.

Until then, I’m off to pay $60 a month for MyGradeBook…