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MirandaNet Fellowship Casestudy

Membership List | Publications | Research | Specialist Area List | Braided Learning Ejournal

Collaboration, ICT and Mind mapping

Ralston, J.L. and Cook, D (2006)

John Ralston

Year of posting: 2006


In their study, Collaboration, ICT and Mind Mapping, Ralston and Cook focus on an example of collaborative activity in Primary schools and aims to explore the ways that visual material helps children establish shared meanings.

This study took place over six weeks in two English Primary schools with twelve 11 and 12 year olds. Both schools introduced Kidspiration®, created by Inspiration Software®, to help students plan a party. They first used paper and pencil maps then used Kidspiration to create concept maps. Each class also used Kidspiration to explore a Key Stage 2 History topic: 16th Century Explorers or similarities and differences between two towns.

Data on student use of Kidspiration were collected over a six week period using observational schedules and field notes. In the working sessions, one of the authors acted as observer while the other encouraged and supported the groups. Because of our interest in the type of spoken language used in the group activity, samples of the informal task discussions were recorded, transcribed and anlysed, as well as the more formal presentational session.

Kidspiration software was chosen because of the user a friendly interface, manageability, ease of use and flexibility. Kidspiration also provides a range of templates to be used when a more structured approach is required. The use of images and text supported in Kidspiration are alternative forms of iconic and symbolic representations, which was particularly appropriate in this study.

Copies of each group's maps were also saved at the end of each session. The authors thought the maps would help pupils recall their actions and decisions across the time interval from one session to the next , as well as support them in the final feedback.

Additionally, the teachers felt it would be valuable for the children who had not been involved with the activity to hear about the work.

The maps created by the children proved to be more of an attempt to represent a 'shared viewpoint' or consensus. Therefore, the author felt the term 'consensual maps' seemed to be more appropriate. These maps were intended to display children's joint representation of their thinking about the tasks. Maps among the groups were visually different, but showed many similarities.

One aspect observed in this study was the quality of the discussion among the students. When talk is 'exploratory' in nature it supports thinking and learning in a hierarchical manner. The things you might find could include actions such as recording, reporting, generalizing, speculating hypothesising and theorising.

In conclusion, the use of multimodal-mapping software, such as Kidspiration proved to be successful in supporting the students' exploration and presentation of ideas, as the language generated shows. The use of ICT provided a screen?? focus enabling pupils to organise their thoughts, make use of colour and imagery to present information clearly and attractively and facilitate discussion. The analysis of the maps showed that the students were working with a clear organising principle in mind.

Read the entire study to see specific ways that the authors used Kidspiration and other ICT tools in this study to aid student thinking. See specific examples created by students, etc.

Inspiration Map


primary education, social contexts, ICT, representations, maps, collaboration, talk


This paper has been published in Reflecting Education. Search for it under 'collaboration'


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