Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tool Review: Popplet

I'm in the midst of setting up a technology professional development program for our school. Basically, I'm creating a Google Site full of information, tutorials, and tasks for our teachers to explore. When I wanted to start organizing the pages and content, I decided concept mapping was more my style than outlining for this project. And since online graphic organizers are a part of my site, I figured I'd try one. Enter Popplet.

Popplet is a free tool, but with a free account I can only make a limited number of popplets (charts). Fine by me. I can choose for my popplets to be private or public, and search through public ones.

The Popplet interface is just fun and welcoming, especially if I were introducing our students to it - I think they would like it. It's also easy to use. The map below took me just a minute or two:

When I add a "popple" (content box), I have the option to insert a picture or video, draw something in the box, or type text. I can also change the color of the box. A few examples below...
A few things I wish Popplet allowed are to insert hyperlinks in the popples (like a link to the library's summer reading club site or story time schedule) and to change the color of the text. I can change the size of the text and its justification, but changing the color of the text would allow another level of organization or differentiation. Maybe it's because I'm using my Popplet as a kind of checklist and want to highlight the completed popples, but that would really be helpful to me.

Popplets can also be collaborative. I have the option to share in various ways:
If I add a collaborator (colleague for me, classmate or teacher for students), he or she can add to or critique my concept map. See those little thought bubbles next to each popple/content box? Those allow me or others to comment on content. These comments become hidden popples that we see when we click on the comment icon (thought bubble):

The settings menu gives me quite a few options, too:

  • Edit gives me the options to Undo, Copy Popple, and Paste Popple.
  • Organize allows me to align popples, snap them to a grid, etc.
  • Add content links me to Flickr, YouTube, and Google Maps.
  • View takes me into Presentation Mode options - you can use this as a Prezi-like presentation!
  • Export gives me options to save as a JPG, PDF, etc.
  • Lab... is something I have yet to explore, actually.
  • Popplet linker allows me to insert a popplet into a popplet (well, isn't that fancy!).
  • Duplicate popplet creates a copy - great for keeping a template for yourself and sharing a copy of collaboration with students!
  • Print brings up the print dialogue for the browser.
  • Languages allows me to embed Japanese, Korean, or Hebrew text.
I highlighted my two favorite features from the settings menu above, since I think they really increase the ways we can use this tool.

My sample popplet here is nothing compared to the breadth of my popplet for the website project, for which I haven't really used all the multi-media options. I simply keep adding layer upon layer to the map to the point where I can't read any of it when I view the whole thing on screen. I'm beginning to think I need to start using the comments button more. Hmm...

Loving this tool so far. Create a free account and get started. Which reminds me of one minor downfall - make that account BEFORE you start creating a popplet. I had a decent chunk of mine made, clicked "create account", set up my account, and bam - my work was gone. Fresh start. Oh well. I had a college professor who always told us to rewrite instead of revise, because our ideas are always more organized the second time around, so I'll hope that's true with this...

Oh! Almost forgot - It has an iPhone and iPad app, too!

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