Monday, January 25, 2010

Cacoo for Visual Diagramming, Mind Mapping and More!

If you're plunging into a new semester or are finding yourself in the mid-year teaching doldrums and are aching to try out a new tool for teaching, check this out!

Cacoo is presented as a "real time collaboration diagramming and design" tool that I can envision many creative uses for in teaching and learning. "Real time collaboration" means that students or a class led by a professor could be online viewing a Cacoo white board with multiple users collaborating on a visual diagram at once (I'd imaging this would work most efficiently with a phone connection of some sort).

This tools appears to have much potential for encouraging students to create visual diagrams of content covered in courses. The tools built into Cacoo are pretty slick too. There are a range of options for clip art including figures and there's a very helpful screen capture tool which allows you to bring a visual of anything on your screen into your visual diagram (love that!). If you're using one of Cacoo's supported browsers (which I was not) you can also upload your own images.

Check out this tutorial video and then take a peek at my own idea for an instructional use of Cacoo:

Cacoo is a user friendly online drawing tool that allows you to create a variety of diagrams such as site maps, wire frames, UML and network charts.
Cacoo can be used free of charge.



Here is a sample of how one could use Cacoo for a student-generated content project. For example, if I was teaching an online art history class and my students were using blogs (within Ning, for example) or a wiki, I could have my students create visual maps of the art historical content we are covering. It would likely be more effective to have students contribute this content to a "class wiki" or share it in a group area (of Ning, for example) to avoid the duplication of content (or, of course, just get more creative with your ideas) but here's what I came up with on the fly. I created this visual map with the "Screenshot" option in Cacoo, allowing me to snap pictures right from Google image search.

Note: Cacoo allows the content to be shared via a url, embed code (for easy copying onto a blog or into a wiki), and it also allows for content to be downloaded into .png format (making us art historians happy -- INSTANT digital content for our in-class presentations!

A sample of how Cacoo could be used for a student-generated art history assignment. "Create an image map illustrating stylistic elements of a major 20th century art movement, include six works of art made by two major artists from the period, and include a brief definition of the artistic movement."




If you give Cacoo a try...let me know what you think!
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