WorldWideMaps – Connecting minds
Alfredo Tifi and Antonietta Lombardi, teachers and trainers in concept mapping, introduce us to WWMAPS, an open community, especially addressed to teachers who are interested to feature concept mapping in their pedagogy.
Thei first aim of the community is to popularize concept mapping, a tool to encourage meaningful learning, as was conceived by Joseph Novak.
In WWMaps are used concept maps (C-Maps) that are diagrams showing the relationships between concepts. Concepts are connected with labeled arrows, in a downward-branching hierarchical structure.
The incentive to drive teachers to concept mapping is given by the availability of technological tools and the opportunity to allow distant students to construct knowledge models, interacting in a common workspace.
About World Wide Maps
How is the collaboration among students possible although being far away from each other and talking different languages? C-Maps are formed by basic propositions (subject - predicate - object) whose structure remains unaffected through translation. Moreover, in multilingual C-Maps major concepts and labels in different languages occupy same nodes. For this reasons, faithful translation of a conceptual map is easier than translating a common text.
To have a look at an example: http://www.2wmaps.com/web_maps/Project_WWMAPS.html
From this simulation of an asynchronous collaboration, you can understand the main idea of the project: http://www.2wmaps.com/file/WWMAPS_logo_clip.swf
When the first collaborating teams were developed, a second task became soon actualized: students could exchange information about their environment, their lives, feelings or affects. Teachers soon devised strategies to strength and extend these exchanges and give also the younger children proper stimuli to get awareness of being really interacting with distant partners.
It has emerged, what was expected: concept maps facilitate the shortening of distances among cultures, adding to the process of knowledge an intercultural and cosmopolitan dimension. The more teachers will enter the community the more chances will be for partners to join, constitute teams and develop many different cultural twinnings.
WWMAPS Community is supported by a three-language website: http://www.2wmaps.com. It includes also:
-a mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org,
-a workspace 2WMAPS in a public C-Map server of the Institute of Human and Machine Technology - IHMC browsable at http://cursa.ihmc.us/servlet/SBRead
WWMAPS website offers also tutorial kits for self-training on concept mapping.
CmapTools, a free software developed by Institute of Human and Machine Technology, is a leading allied of this educational initiative. It is much more than a software application to draw concept maps; it is a continuous process that links technology to the educational needs of collective knowledge. Due to a world wide network of servers and to an extended community of experts all around the world, this research institute provides a free platform where resources can be created, uploaded, shared and compared.
Recent improvements in CmapTools (version 4.0) have permitted the best adaptation of this tool to the needs of multilingual teams, such as having different colours in the same nodes for different languages, records of previous versions of C-Map resources, sharing of knowledge claims in what is called “knowledge soup” and a multi-language platform.
Concept mapping and science
Concept mapping is a valuable tool to develop science topics, and thank to WWMAPS is now possible to allow classes from different countries to work together. Some science activities, using C-Maps are presented.
This browsable folder contains some bilingual physics and chemistry C-Maps, made by Italian students of 9th grade. Some Romanian students, more experts, (11th grade) are currently reviewing these C-Maps.
This C-Map indexes to a water management knowledge model constructed collaboratively by secondary students from Spanish, Italian and Mauritius.
Interaction and Chemistry
This C-Map describes some chemistry hands-on activities in two different and faraway Italian primary schools. Teachers collaborate practicing the same hands-on experiments and students build up C-Maps that grow up together with their understanding of the subject. This is part of a bigger team involving Malta’s classes too.
WWMAPS is a no-profit initiative sustained only by private and free dedication of coordinators and of a six teacher-members staff. Contacts are now established with teachers and students members from Italy, Malta, Spain, Romany, Mauritius, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Perú. Each team is coordinated by respective teachers through forums and project c-maps, and is monitored and coached by staff members.
Teachers, from primary, secondary or higher school, are welcome to become members of this open Community.
For any information: email@example.com