Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Proper set-up for Concept Mapping with VUE

Posted 20 Jun 2011 / 2

As I have indicated on my Interests page, I am very much interested in the process of Concept Mapping. I have been using a wonderful concept-mapping tool, the Visual Understanding Environment (VUE), to create concept maps for my teaching, research, and presentations. I just stepped up my concept mapping with a new computer set up at home. I purchased a relatively-cheap large monitor and have it hooked up to my laptop in dual screen mode. This allows me to put my concept map on the large screen in front of me and the VUE controls on the laptop screen off to the left. My laptop has a trackpad, which allows me to navigate around maps quickly, and I use a cheap wireless mouse to grab and manipulate things on the map. Given that one of the biggest challenges of making good concept maps in an efficient manner has been getting enough of the map on the screen, the new monitor is definitely a major step forward.

If you are looking to make such a setup yourself, all I can say is “go for the maximum pixels”. The one downside on my new monitor is that while it is a 24″ monitor it is only 1920 x 1080 pixels, which means that its resolution is a little coarse. The ultimate monitor for getting the largest concept map on the screen is not necessarily the largest in overall size, but the monitor with the largest pixel span. If I had the money I would go for a monitor like Apple’s 27″ LED Cinema Display, which packs in 2560 x 1440 pixels.

Concept Mapping, Information Design

2 Comments to "Proper set-up for Concept Mapping with VUE"

Dan 2nd July 2011 at 2:21 pm

Chris- Could you comment on concept maps with a computer vs. concept maps on a large piece of paper or on a white board? I haven’t played with VUE, but I will give it a shot. But one thing I know is that I seem to think more creatively when using a pen than I do with a mouse and a keyboard. (Using a white board forces me to both use a pen and stand up, which seems to help even more.)

Chris Jensen 13th July 2011 at 10:44 pm

I agree Dan that there are pro’s and con’s of each approach. If you have a nice big whiteboard that does not need to be erased for a few weeks, this would be the best way to start up a concept map. But if you want to further develop that map so that it can evolve over time and eventually be presented to others, it needs to escape from that whiteboard. And once you brainstorm the basic ideas you want to include onto the whiteboard, it is unlikely that they will be spatially arranged in an ideal manner. That’s when a concept-mapping software package like VUE is really handy, as it allows for quick restructuring of concept maps without losing those precious connections you worked so hard to make.

I discuss these pro’s and con’s further here.

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