Concept Mapping

I’ve seen several demos of Compendium, the knowlege-mapping software which can be downloaded for free from the Open University’s Open Learn website. I’d include a link here, but the Open Learn website is Byzantine in its layout and I can’t find the appropriate page. Anyway, it can also be downloaded from this non-OU site http://www.compendiuminstitute.org/download/download.htm

I have been trying really hard to write the literature review section of my thesis using this software. On the face of it, it is ideal. I set my main topic headings up as nodes: ‘community of practice’, ‘community of learners’, ‘community, ‘virtual community’… I then paste in all my reference material on those, link to some major websites and books, and then I can move it around as I decide how to order it. It should be a useful tool and perfectly simple…

… but it isn’t. And I’ve really tried with this. I’ve watched the introductory videos, looked at the demonstration maps, trawled through the help contents and index – even spent half an hour struggling through the Open Learn website to find the help forum (and I got a quick response there, but I failed to Bookmark the forum so it’s lost again).

I now nearly – but not quite – know how to set up a list node. I nearly, but not quite, know how to display a node in two maps at the same time – except that all the material in those nodes now appears twice and I can’t save changes. I’ve managed to import some different icons into my maps, but I worked that out for myself, there wasn’t any help with it, and I can’t believe that there isn’t a simpler way to do it.

Now I’ve decided I can’t afford to invest any more time in it. It never even shuts properly, so I have to go to the task manager to close it down. I’ll go back to moving pieces of paper round because that’s easy, and Compendium is not.

About Rebecca

I am a research fellow at The Open University. My research interests focus on how people learn together online and in blended environments, and I have studied blogs, online conference and interaction in both Second Life and Teen Second Life.
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