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Peer Review

Concept Map Software (CMAP) Version 3



Overall Rating:

4.67 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: Jun 16, 2001 by Teacher Education
Overview: The IHMC Concept Mapping Software empowers users to construct, navigate, share, and criticize knowledge models represented as Concept Maps. The toolkit is platform independent and network enabled, allowing the users to build, and collaborate during the construction of concept maps with colleagues anywhere on the network, as well as, share and navigate through others' models distributed on servers throughout Internet. Through a flexible architecture, the toolkit allows the user to install only the functionality required, adding more modules as needed, or as new modules with additional functionality are developed. This software is being licensed to you by IHMC UWF in A FREE BETA VERSION ONLY and is provided for educational non-profit use only. The software may change in look, feel, and functionality in future releases. Commercial usage of this product is strictly prohibited. Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this material for any purpose and without fee is hereby granted for educational non-profit non-commercial use only, provided that the above copyright notice and this permission notice appear in all copies,
Learning Goals: The CMAP software allows users to construct, navigate, share, and criticize knowledge models represented as Concept Maps.
Target Student Population: Any teacher educator with an opportunity to provide tools to in-service or prospective teachers will want to share this free version of the CMAP software with all teachers. Teacher researchers will appreciate the site for the exhaustive list of references on the use and research of concept maps.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: The ability to navigate a webpage and to download and install the software is required.
Type of Material: Quiz/Test
Technical Requirements: The software works on any platform in a browser with an up-to-date version of Java. The server version is available for Windows 2000, Mac servers, Linux, Windows NT on an Apache server, and Solaris.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: Joseph D. Novak who first researched the use of Concept Maps has been involved with this project. Academic references on this web present some of Novak?s research in a clear synopsis of the state of our knowledge about Concept Maps.

The Concept Maps made available through public servers show an example of multinational collaboration ? half of the concept maps are in Spanish, and because of the simple language and structure, those are clearly intelligible in spite of the language obstacle.

This is an exemplary display of knowledge that drives innovation, with a result that will surely impact the way teachers teach. The site is an outstanding alternative to commercially available products.
Concerns: None

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The benefits of concept mapping have been well documented, both on this site's list of references, as well as in many other literature sources. For example, this tool responds to the three areas of consensus about learning (preconceptions, substantial and organized knowledge foundation, and metacognition) identified in How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school by Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (1999) at Use concept maps to establish base-line understanding and then to watch knowledge grow and deepen over time.
Concerns: This tool makes Concept Maps so easy that teachers might lose sight of the importance of writing across the curriculum. That is not the fault of the tool, though.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The software is free to download in the beta test version. The license and contact information are easily accessible. The Mac version is self-extracting. The PC version comes with information needed to connect to three public servers with sample concept maps (work in progress). The concept maps are saved on a server where anyone with the CMAP software can view and work with those files. Both Mac and PC versions offer both a fluid server-based version of a concept map plus the option to save as html or GIF ? a snapshot in time. The concepts within a map can be linked to a variety of objects ? providing the option of hyper-layered concept maps.
Concerns: The need to download and install WinZip before get the PC version to work on a laptop was not forewarned. The Mac version lacked the file with the URL?s necessary to link to the servers. While it was easy to add access to the public servers, once the software was installed, the IP numbers or names of those servers was not readily available ? but was easily copied from the PC version. The GIF and HTML concept maps do not retain links to the resources places in the original file (images, text, other concept maps). . The concept maps require the CMAP software on the workstation where the hyperlinked concept map is viewed. Links to text must have RTF format ? the software does not read MSWord text files properly. The Concept maps on the server require the CMAP software on the workstation where the hyperlinked concept maps is viewed.

Access on both Mac and PC and with any browser was not a problem for one with some technical expertise. Teachers who are new to the web might need a technology expert to download and install the software.