Using mind mapping software (Inspiration 7.5) in the classroom

Introduction

I've been using Inspiration software for several months. In a nutshell, Inspiration lets you create attractive mind maps. Text can be replaced with pictures from a large clipart gallery and the resulting diagrams exported as HTML or Word files. Hyperlinks can be made to other files from the mind map, and a particularly useful feature is the facility to gather all the hyperlinked files in one folder to move easily between computers. The program is extremely easy and intuitive to learn. Students rapidly see the benefits of planning essays and organising revision concepts visually.

Inspiration mind map

Two examples of how I've used Inspiration with a Year 9 class are illustrated below:

An exemplar lesson plan using inspiration 7.5 (hyperlinks open new windows - resize as necessary)

Opening screen
The opening screen shows the title and objectives of the lesson. The text box was linked to a music track to be played during the register! Students know to write the title in their exercise books.
Starter
The lesson plan has been expanded to show the first activity. The web site and accompanying task are hyperlinked to the diagram. Students are aware of the keywords to be introduced during the lesson.
Activities
The activities are now expanded. There are clear links to the objectives and it is easy to keep students on task because they can see at a glance what they need to do. There are hyperlinks to the resources.
Plenary
The final activities have been planned and link back to the starter activity. The lesson overview helps with recapping the learning. Homework if set, is easy to copy down.

A concept map to revise a topic
Using the students own notes I identified all the key words and ideas from the previous topic. The class collaborate to organise the ideas by group / using colour as desired on the IWB. Pupils are now challenged to create links between the ideas to form a concept map.

Summary and links:

Inspiration is a marvelous piece of software which has enormous potential for both students and teachers. I've outlined two personal case studies. All the original Inspiration files used for this article together with html versions and various hyperlinked files (apart from the sound track) can be downloaded as a zip file here. A fully functioning 30 day trial can be downloaded here. It can be purchased with ELCs and any files you create with the trial version will still be editable once you've purchased the software. Inspiration is not exactly cheap, especially to purchase a site license, however it should be possible to base a bid on the school's literacy policy or development plan. All subjects will be able to find a use for Inspiration!