Website review by Amanda Finkelberg, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2013

bubbl.us

Easy to jump right in and mind map with peers

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 4 reviews
Privacy rating
Not yet rated Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
8–12 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
Character & SEL, Critical Thinking, Creativity

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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.

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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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.

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.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

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 Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

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 Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

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.


Community Rating

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Featured review by
Chris H. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Cool digital way for students to brainstorm, make connections, and organize.
The process of using this tool is dynamic and organic. It allows just enough freedom to customize without giving so much freedom that students get lost is "creating." At an art academy, this is an excellent tool that focuses students' though process so they can spend more time making truly inspiring works of creativity!
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Privacy Rating

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