Week 9 : Concept Map
I think the idea of using a concept map as a non-linear writing medium which also interacts with the internet very exciting. But…wouldn’t it be more amazing if the concept map, rather than returning a web search result, instead returned another concept map?
Rather than returning web searches, why not return “expert skeleton concept maps” from a community of contributors? In an abstract sense we do this every time we pick up a book, try an online course, read an article. We search for specific pieces of content to fit into the puzzle of our research or scaffolded/structured knowledge. We build out the details, and hope the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. With some luck filling the gaps in our understanding we hope to share Newton famous perspective, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” 
Instead of generating stories, building a concept map would be a learning activity for generating systems. After completing some percentage of a component (at the n-gram and sequence levels) students would be given new skeleton structures to work from guiding research into novel directions.
Kids and adults alike love Nintendo’s Zelda. Playing for hours to unlock the sequence of events which complete an in-game quest, players thrill to the unexpected challenges and clever puzzles tied to observation and exploration. Simultaneously to the unfolding plot line, players thrill to the unfolding Zelda Universe. Using the analogy of discovering a game developer’s storyline, this alternative imagines your interest to discover the roots to the ideas you’re tasked to explore (it’s starting to sound like a wander through Wikipedia).
Take My Concept Map as a Visual Example
To explore this idea, I created three zones in my concept map. The left zone represents my personal research goals (with two partial side topics: community and work research). The right side represents the DALMOOC course topics. Finally in the middle are four general qualities which represent the filled gap between these two concept maps.
My initial sketches imagined my goals as disconnected islands. However, I found it very easy to connect each area together, and with many interconnections. In a curious twist it’s the DALMOOC side which appears more segmented. (It seems I have a distorted view of the connectedness of my activities.)
I’m very happy with this first version. The order of the DALMOOC side adds something to my perceptions of my personal goals. I’m looking forward to further detailing the map to understand the relationships of community. You may notice the community areas surrounding my personal goals are sparse. What’s more, what began as efforts in personal research for the sole purposes of strengthening the community and work related research areas, is revealed here as a separate complex unity in its own right.
My Alternative Concept Map
UPDATE: CmapTools is a bit nutty on the export files; however, I’m truly curious how the tool works with other files. (NOTE: Oddly, the CmapTools application Save As dialog only saves file to ‘My Cmaps’. Far from being unable to find the file, I suppose the best course is to go with the flow and use the export file formats). Download my CmapTools concept map(s) here:
Summing up DALMOOCs Influence
I feel there were two great contributions from DALMOOC to my personal research goals. The first was to demonstrate to me what an energetic and active community could feel like. What’s it feel like to seed the different communities with your posts? What generates the most interest? Most comments? What do I most enjoy writing?
The second contribution has its origin in the tripartite structure of the course: context for learning data described by George early in the course, followed by easily integrated tools, and concrete learning problems well described by Dragan, Ryan and Carolyn. I mentioned this in an earlier post. The course surpassed my expectations, because exploring problems with inter-operable applications in a well communicated (learning) context contributed greatly to my engagement with the material. This directly increased my writing output. The context and learning problems inspired investigation in the applications. The applications worked well together to inspire investigation between projects. And the sum total of these experiences generated a lot of ideas and visualizations which I wrote about in the context of the course. Sometimes, maybe, stretching the relevancy to learning, but always with an intent to seek the most interesting ideas and work to communicate them well.
See Also: Introducing three CmapTools Features
 “The Theory Underlying Concept Maps and How to Construct and Use Them”, Novak, Joseph D. & Alberto J. Cañas. Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. (2006) 2008
 Standing on the shoulders of giants [Wikipedia]