Visual learning is an instructional method in which ideas, concepts, data and other information are associated with images and represented graphically. Concept mapping is a good example of visual learning. A concept map provides a way of representing or organizing knowledge by showing relationships that exist between concepts. It illustrates how knowledge is organized and helps identify the way we think and see relationships between entities. Visual learning can help students improve academic performance and achieve success across the curriculum. Out of many concept mapping software, Inspiration is by far the most popular one and is widely used in schools. Inspiration integrates dynamic diagramming and outlining environments to help teachers and students organize ideas and information. Students can use Inspiration as a graphic organizer tool for brainstorming ideas, concept mapping, outlining, and organizing thoughts. They can quickly create a mind map, an idea map, a tree chart, a concept map or a flowchart diagram, for a visual display and then convert it to an outline view for a more traditional perspective. Also, teachers can use Inspiration to plan student lessons, meet curriculum standards, and enhance critical thinking skills.
For the past several years, I have been teaching the concept mapping with Inspiration in the Computer Applications in Education course for teacher education students. Most of my students find Inspiration is a powerful and interesting visual learning tool. In addition, they see how easy it is to use Inspiration to brainstorm, plan, organize, outline, diagram and write. With Inspiration, teachers can easily create a concept map to help their students gain a better understanding of concepts to demonstrate their knowledge and improve their performance across the curriculum. Teachers can use Inspiration to help students develop their critical thinking strategies.
For younger learners in K-5, Kidspiration is an excellent visual learning tool. Kidspiration is very easy to use and is designed for younger learners. Kidspiration provides an easy and a fun way to apply principles of visual learning that can help K-5 students view and understand relationships through brainstorming ideas with words and pictures. Students can use Kidspiration to build graphic organizers by combining pictures, text, and spoken words to represent certain thoughts and information. Younger learners can develop early literacy skills by using the writing tool in Kidspiration and create stories and descriptions using engaging visual tools. I think both Inspiration and Kidspiration are powerful visual learning tools. They can help students visualize, think, organize and learn.