Monday, April 8, 2013 - a quick and easy way to throw your ideas together

You know when you have a sudden brainstorming session, and you just need to map out your ideas quickly? Don't bother fumbling around with Power Point, use! This happened to me the other day. I went through several iterations of outlining, concept mapping, returning to outlining, staring at the page, and then it hit me. I needed to map out how my brain was conceptualizing the issue I was working on. I had a meeting in 15 minutes to discuss the issue, so I didn't have much time to work it out and make it all pretty in Power Point. After a quick Google search, I found this website!

It's very easy to use. Simply input your text to create main "nodes". Press tab to create sub-nodes. It only gives you different colors for three tiers deep, but it's at least useful for getting started on mapping out your brainstorm.

Simply type your text in the box on the left. Press tab to create sub-nodes.

Once you input your text, you can use your mouse to move the nodes around to create a visually appealing layout.

Drag and drop to move the nodes around.

It has lots of nice features like printing or saving as a PDF, saving for later, and plenty of font & color combinations to change the look and feel of the map.

Use options on the left to change colors and fonts.
Also use the save button or download option to make it printable.

One problem I encountered was that it was not taking my hierarchy properly, thus creating a mess of my nodes and sub-nodes. Through  my trouble-shooting efforts, I switched from using the Google Chrome browser to the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser, and the problem went away. So, if you encounter this problem, just use Internet Explorer.

Also, if you aren't familiar with mind mapping, check out for examples, the theory behind mind mapping, and links to other related topics.

Monday, April 1, 2013

ICPSR - summer learning programs

I attended a webinar hosted by the folks at ICPSR (the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research) on their educational opportunities. The part I found most interesting, and applicable to my readers, was their summer learning series. They have seminars on almost every topic of quantitative data analysis you can imagine. So if you are a doc student who needs to learn (for example) about group-based modeling (or, "latent class growth analysis") you can attend a workshop by Daniel Nagin on that very topic! The workshops are pricey if you are a poor graduate student, but if you can find a way to pay for it, then you should definitely consider attending one of these specialized training opportunities for your dissertation analysis strategy. They also have workshops geared towards undergraduate and graduate students, so be sure to share this with your students. Head on over and check out the summer programs!