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Virtual Community, Social Media

Howard Rheingold shares the course wiki for his Stanford course Virtual Community/Social Media. The course syllabus has an excellent reading list. Howard uses mindmaps as part of student activity in the course. Over the last seven or eight years, I’ve required learners to create graphical representations of how they see relationships between key course concepts. I prefer concept mapping to mind mapping. Mind mapping is essentially brainstorming…typically with a centre or a hierarchical structure. Concept maps are messier – more life like. In fact, Berners-Lee’s 1989 vision of the web is basically a concept map. Current emphasis on linked data has attributes of concept maps (but lacks describing connectors). Simply put, a mind map works for brainstorming and information that can be categorized. A concept map emphasizes entity relatedness. This small difference makes a big difference. When I evaluate a concept map, I’m able to see how students relate different course concepts and how those relationships cross information silos that are often necessary in order to design and teach a program or a course. When I evaluate a mind map, I can only see which elements of the course learners found worth capturing and categorizing.