Thanks to Freeware resources, you and your students can use concept mapping programs in school and at home for free. You can map out your ideas and structure your higher level thinking activities.
Bubb.us can create a bubble concept map with ease. Each box has several icons: + to move the icon; X to remove it; color icon to change the color; folder for a sibling folder; folder for a new child balloon; and a paper clip to attach a bubble to another bubble. It is quick to use. However, I did not see how to format the text. The maps can be exported. It is primarily text-based.
Gliffy Online allows you to create three private and unlimited public maps in the free version. Its many shapes are drag and drop. You can change the color of the font and the background of any shape. You can eliminate the background grid. To make it public, click on Share and Public. It appears the closest to the Inspiration program that many teachers are familiar with.
Compendium uses a node metaphor. There are drag and drop icons for questions, answers (argument, pro, con) notes, and references (actual docs like pdf, PowerPoint, weblink), strategy, activity, etc. You can easily link from one item to another. Has a great tutorial.
Cmap tools permits a map within a map. A primary item usually has a proposition (phrase connecting one item to another). It is primarily text based. This program is supported by several universities.
Additional programs are briefly listed in Wikipedia
Now you can do concept maps at home, your students can do them at home, and you and the students can do concept maps on any school computer even if it does not have have Inspiration.
Map On! Think On!
© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007