Cmap Tool Server

Novak and Gowin (1988) describe the use of concept mapping as a creative activity in which students have to make an effort to clarify meanings by identifying the main concepts and their relations within a specific knowledge domain.

In terms of their potential for learning, three characteristics distinguish concept maps from other graphic resources:

1. They require that the main concepts be identified;
2. They are structured hierarchically;
3. They articulate the significant relationships between concepts as linking phrases, so that two or more concepts related by a labelled arrow form a semantic unit.

The Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) has developed the CmapTools software (Cañas et al., 2004) to facilitate the collaborative construction of concept maps. The concept map becomes the artefact around which collaboration takes place, and the results of this collaboration are reflected in the map that is built. The distributed system architecture facilitates concept map sharing and collaboration in their construction through a series of permissions (such as an annotate permission, which allows the user to add comments but not to modify the map; a writing permission, which allows the user to modify the map; or a read-only permission).

Main functionalities:
· Multimedia: this software allows the user to link text and all kinds of resources (images, videos, web pages, documents, presentations, etc.) through a simple drag-and-drop operation, and also other previously built concept maps.
· Synchronous collaboration: users can modify the map collaboratively communicating through a chat window.
· Asynchronous collaboration: Annotate (post-it type comments) and Discussion Threads allow users to start an asynchronous dialogue on any node or link in the map.
· Knowledge Soups: facilitate collaboration through propositions; during the construction of their individual concept maps students can publish their propositions to share and discuss them with other students.