CmapTools: A Free Concept Mapping Teaching Tool

CmapTools: Integrating, Teaching, Learning, and Evaluation in Online Courses

Teaching, learning, and evaluation in online courses offer unique and exciting challenges for instructors. Not only is it necessary to find new teaching strategies but it’s essential that instructors find new ways to facilitate student learning. Concept maps (Novak, 1998) are one strategy that can promote teaching, learning, and evaluation in online environments.

Concept Maps are pictures or graphical representations that learners draw to depict their understanding of the meaning of a set of concepts. They use the maps to link new learning to what they already know. One of the ways adults learn is in analyzing their own experiences and linking them to the new information they are learning. In this way, the maps offer learners and instructors an opportunity to share, discuss, and revise their understanding of concepts, propositions, and the relationships between new and existing knowledge. One way to use concept maps to promote learning is to have students construct concept maps of the course readings [throughout the course]. Students pick a reading that piques their interest in a particular topic and maps out the reading as a way to understand it. Other ways students can use concept maps to show relationships between two or more readings or two or more authors. When students create concept maps, instructors get a glimpse into how their mind is working and how they are constructing knowledge. So not only are the maps a teaching and learning strategy, but can be used to give feedback and assess learning.

CmapTools can be incorporated into any course taught online for adult learners. It is a relatively easy program for students to install and learn

Novak, J. Learning, Creating and Using Knowledge: Concept Maps as Facilitative Tools in Schools and Corporations. Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum, 1998.

Concept Map using CmapTools

YouTube Video on How to use the CmapTools Software to create a concept map.

Google Forms as Formative Assessments


MATC instructors can use Google forms, a component of the Google Docs suite of applications, to create  online surveys  to collect feedback from students.   If you create Google forms that use multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank format questions, you can easily transform your Google form into an online formative assessment using a free script called Flubaroo.  To learn more about Flubaroo, its features, and how it can be used in your class, please watch Google’s EduOnAir Google+ Hangout called “Flubaroo and Apps Scripts“.

3 Online Tools for Formative Assessment

Wall Wisher

Wall Wisher can be used to informally assess student knowledge and promote discussion.

To truly understand how students are learning, and to guide their performance, consider incorporating an array of formative assessments in your course design.  Unlike summative assessments, such as quizzes and tests that gauge a student’s body of knowledge long after instruction has occurred, formative assessments are meant as informal “practice” activities or quick progress checks that occur as a part of a lesson.  Based on learning outcomes, the instructor can use data gathered from the assessment to make quick adaptations to their teaching to support the learning process. Common examples of formative assessments include: pre-tests, polls, surveys, quiz games, and end-of-lesson “exit tickets”.

There are several online tools that instructors can use to create engaging formative assessments that make data collection quick and easy. Here are 3 of the most popular free tools you can use to get started. Continue reading