CmapTools in the Cloud (yay!)

Have I been waiting for this to happen…I’ve been using the freely available desktop version of CmapTools for years, extolling the virtues of this classic concept mapping tool, and now the good folks at the Florida Institute of Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) have unveiled Cmap Cloud.

Concept maps are graphical representations of knowledge – think brainstorming or mind mapping but a little more structured. They usually start with a focus question and run hierarchically, demonstrating the relationships between concepts. One of the great things about CmapTools is that when you connect two concepts together you are prompted to add a linking phrase to define the relationship. Rather than just typing [pie]–[cherry], you might specify [pie]-can be-[cherry]. It turns out that this is not the easiest thing to do. We can write reams of text on a topic but at the same time get rather stuck mapping it out. In this way, concept maps demonstrate our knowledge of a subject area and reveal misconceptions. When we add new information to maps, we build connections to what we already know and meaningful learning can occur. Concept maps can also be used in groups to reach a shared understanding of the tasks at hand, with the added bonus that concepts in CmapTools can have resources attached to them. If you haven’t yet taken the time to explore the software, I invite you to try today and get in touch with me if you have questions.

Back to the Cloud. The desktop version allows you to save concept maps on a public server and create a website for sharing – amazing – but with the advent of the Cmap Cloud, you can also save your maps there and edit them online. I have been using it for a couple of days now and it can be a little slow at times, but many of the features are there. The nice part is that you can make friends with other Cmappers and share folders to work on projects together.

IHMC also have a new CmapTools for iPad. It is free to download but there is an in-app purchase to be able to export maps and sync them with the Cmap Cloud. I’ll be spending some time with it so look for my review on our new mobile apps blog.

Download, create or share your own 3D models

The U.S National Institutes of Health has launched a 3D print exchange website that allows users to download, edit and share models of anatomy, bacteria and lab equipment. Among the current available selections: a frog dissection kit, the base of a cervical spine, a bust of a Macaque, the influenza virus, a microscope, a DNA playset and a “three-dimensional structure of the toxin-delivery particle antifeeding prophage of Serratia entomophila.”

Making life easier with assistive technology

I came across an interesting new blog called, The Assistive Technology Daily, which discusses assistive technology devices that can help make life easier for people of all ages and abilities, such as the:

Visit The Assistive Technology Daily to discover more of these helpful devices.

Trimble SketchUp

SketchUpHere is a 3D drawing tool that surprised me by being extremely easy to use, not to mention free to download. SketchUp is one of the geo line of products that was offered by Google but was sold last year to Trimble.

I followed the new to SketchUp video tutorials to build this snazzy house. That is me outside trying to look cool because, as per usual, I can’t find my keys.

Happy sketching!

Learning LaTeX online

I recently had to learn some basics about LaTeX, which is free software used to create professionally typeset documents.  Its strength lies in formatting technical and scientific documents that contain mathematical notations.

Below are links to some short videos that are useful for learning how to use LaTeX:

Image from Microsoft Office Clipart

Interact with computers without a mouse

You may still remember the scene from the movie “Minority Report” where Tom Cruise controlled the computer by wearing a pair of special gloves and performing gestures in the air. A new software, called “g-speak”, came into being at Oblong Industries which might change the way we interact with computers in the future, since a mouse will never be useful in a g-speak operating environment. The following video demonstrates how the g-speak system works.

Read more at ‘Minority Report’ software becomes a reality