Cristian Opazo, a Senior Academic Computing Consultant at Vassar College, recently posted an interesting article on the blog, RAIL: RECIPES FOR ADVANCING INFORMATION LITERACY.
Cristian's post is about how Google drawing tools can be used to create concept maps. At Colgate, we have had several professors use the Webspiration Concept Mapping tool with their students with some success.
Because all faculty and students now have the full suite of Google Apps at their disposal, the idea of using the Google drawing tools is very powerful as students would be able to collaborate both in class and out of class on the same concept maps.
Below is an excerpt from Cristian's post. Click here to see the entire post.
"The drawing tools provided by Google Docs are very intuitive (think of a simpler version of Illustrator) and they allow you to do most anything you need as far as creating 2-D illustrations: stroke-and-fill shapes, freehand lines, inserting external images, etc. The library of shapes is generous (it features, for instance, 26 different types of arrows), and objects can be arranged into layers and grouped, masked, reordered, etc. The beauty of it all is that since it is natively generates vector graphics, you can create illustrations of arbitrarily large sizes that could be printed out poster-sized in all their vector-based glory. As a consequence, not only you can export your drawings as raster graphics (JPEG, PNG), but also as vector-based PDFs or SVGs. One particularly useful feature is the ability to insert links on your illustration, which takes you to the next level: creating hyperlinked images. This way, for instance, you can associate a URL to every concept in the map, so that when you click on the "Newtonian Mechanics" label, you are taken, for instance, to the respective page on Wikipedia (so you can read it, learn from it, and improve it!) In the best Google Docs tradition, of course, you can review the files history, so you can revert to a previous version just like that, and share your drawing with your collaborators for viewing, commenting or editing. Simply publishing the image file to the web is also possible, and very easy. "