Common Sense Review
Updated February 2013

bubbl.us

Easy to jump right in and mind map with peers
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Common Sense Rating 3
  • The simple Start page is one click away from making mind maps.
  • Ample help is available for the site’s limited features.
  • Branches can be by grouped by color palette or filled independently.
Pros
An easy-to-use interface and limited options get kids creating charts right away.
Cons
Charts are more functional than attractive with limited design and customization options.
Bottom Line
Once students understand how flowcharts and webs help them map ideas, they can build and share charts immediately.
Amanda Finkelberg
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 2

Kids can start making mind maps and webs right away. It's more of an administrative tool, though, with limited customization, and the overall site design is a little stale.

 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Essentially a tool to help make flowcharts and webs, Bubbl.us doesn't teach kids how to tease out an idea or use mind mapping for creative or organizational purposes.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Pop-ups and an intuitive interface make the site easy to use. Extensive help topics explain additional features like sharing and managing sheets. Unfortunately, there are no extensions, communities, or galleries.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Ample help menus provide information on how to create and edit charts, but the deeper context, and the teaching element, of how to use a flowchart to map an idea isn't explained, so you'll want walk students through it. Bubbl.us can help them learn to collaborate on, perhaps, a project or a report, but the site is only the tool for making and sharing charts. Still, students might get a lot out of Bubbl.us once you help them develop brainstorming and mind-mapping skills.

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What's It Like?

Bubbl.us lets you create simple flowcharts and webs to diagram ideas, writing assignments, and projects. Simply click on the Start Here bubble to start a branch. Then, click the tiny button on the bottom of the bubble or hit Command+Enter to create a new bubble below it (we'll call it a child bubble). Hitting Tab or clicking the button to the side of the bubble creates a new bubble, which we'll call a sibling. Sibling bubbles are the same color as the original bubble, whereas child bubbles are the next shade in the branch color palette. Bubbles and text can be custom-colored by clicking the pop-up menu. Branches will automatically change to match the new palette, though the last bubble on a branch can be colored however you like. Users can edit text size and connection arrows from the pop-up menu.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Best of all, students can share and collaborate with other Bubbl.us users. They can export charts as JPEGs or PNGs, or even as Web pages. With an upgraded account, they can save and share unlimited charts, download or upload them to work on multiple computers as well as offline, and add users to work together through the Bubbl.us site.

Students can jump right in and start making charts with clicks or key commands. Customization options are limited, which makes the tool simple to figure out. For example, kids can choose text size, bubble color, and where to place bubbles on the screen, but beyond that there's no control over the look of the chart. It might be nice to be able to customize bubble shape, fonts, or types of connection arrows, although tweaking the final project or report will be more important than tweaking the brainstorm.

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