Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Visualize Your Thoughts

It's been awhile since my last tool post.  There are some reasons for that. First, it's been conference season. It starts for me in September as I plan out my accepted sessions for IETC in November.  In September, I was a part of RSCON for the first time.  The past few years I was the Chair for the SET Connections "SPUn" Conference in early November, then come the holidays and more conferences.  In fact this year, three in the span of six weeks.  Starting with the NICE Mini Conference at the end of January, the new and hopefully annual Google mini conference in February and of course ICE which was just last week.  It's a busy time.  And I'm not done yet. I'll be at WEMTA in a few weeks and I believe Tech Forum in May.  And that busy schedule doesn't even start to touch what some of my colleagues put on their plates.

However, I open every session talking about this blog and how I write about tools.  I will say that I have started getting away from the tools in favor of focusing on learning outcome.  But anyone in my "Taking the Tech Out of Technology Integration" sessions this past year knows that to successfully infuse tech you need to have a knowledge and foundation of what is available.

Enough blathering?  Get to the tool already?  Alright, here's are two.  I am a big fan of diagramming thoughts and of visualizing processes.  Whether that means mind mapping an idea or creating a flowchart.  Two great tools for this include Lucidchart and one I just discovered today draw.io.  Both of these tools integrate with Google Drive - which is a major plus in my book because it makes it easy to share and collaborate.  And each offers a drag and drop interface.

If I'm being honest, Lucidchart seems a bit more robust.  It has a huge number of starter templates to create a number of different charts, graphs, maps and diagrams.  It also has a very professional interface.  I feel like I'm working in Visio or a more expensive application as I lay out my thoughts and ideas.  I LOVE the fact that it allows you to search for additional images to add to your charts and graphs through Iconfinder and Google Images.

On the other hand there is draw.io,  This tool just feels intuitive.  It has very similar features to Lucidchart with the exception of image search.  But it feels like you are working inside Google Docs.  It may not be as feature rich, but that can sometimes be overwhelming.  Draw.io just seems to work.  Big bonus - You don't need to sign up or in to use it or to save your work!

Both have offline modes available.  Lucidchart has a number of subscription levels beyond the free version as well.

If you are a visual person like me.  I highly recommend trying either of these online applications to get your thoughts and ideas organized.


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