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Monday, January 23, 2012

Create Concept Maps and Diagrams with Cacoo


Concept mapping is a great way to get students generating ideas as a class, group, or individual.  As they prepare ideas for research papers or other reports educators often have their student create outlines, diagrams, and charts so that they can have a visual as to where the student or class want to go with their topic.

Today I would like to highlight a new tool, at least it is new to me, called Cacoo.

What is Cacoo?

  • Cacoo is a web cloud resource that allows the user to create diagrams, mind maps, network charts, electricity diagrams, and much much more.  
What are the highlights of Cacoo?
  • Color code parts of your diagram.
  • Add your own images and web links.
  • Has a huge library of stencils for you to use.
  • Collaborate in real time with others.  You can have more than one student working on the same diagram at the same time.
  • Share it out with other people.
  • Create 25 different diagrams before you have to consider payment options.
  • Its free to a certain usability
What are some disadvantages of Cacoo?
  • Well they are in it to make money as they should be and if you like what you see then you should consider payment.  
  • You can only create 25 diagrams before paying.
  • As a free customer you can only save it as a PNG file.
  • You can't embed your diagram into a web page or blog, you can however share a public link to the diagram.
Here is an idea of what the map can look like.  Note that you can get a lot fancier with this program.

Tutorial

1.  Go to www.cacoo.com
2.  Click the "Sign in" button.
3.  Create a new account or login with another service like "Facebook."

4.  Fill in the information and then click the "Create" button.














5.  Once you have completed your registration click the "Create new diagram" button.  This will open up a new page.




6.  One the right site of the screen you will see some of the options you can choose from to start your diagram.
















7.  Play around with the stencil folder section and the shape section until you find the right style of stencil you want to use.  There are many awesome ways to build a diagram.  Once you choose a shape just drag it onto your sheet.

8.  To rotate the shape to different angles and to resize it, just use the "handles."  "Handles" are the little squares and the green dot. 
9.  To write inside the bubble shape, just double click the center of it.  You will now see a box next to your shape.  You can change the font size and color and manipulate the text in other ways.

10.  Use the "line" tool at the top to draw lines from each of your shapes.



11.  After you select the line tool, hover your mouse over the first shape and you will see a bunch of circles appear.  Click and hold on one of them and then draw a line to the next shape.  You should see that shape as well appear with circles.  Let go of the mouse button as you hover over one of those circles.  The two objects should now be linked.




12.  If you want to add your own image to the diagram just use the image button next to the line button.










13.  If your concept map gets to big, just zoom out a little bit using the zoom tool.



14.  After you are done with your concept map, click the "Export" button to save it as a PNG file.
















15.  If you want to invite somebody to view your map, just click the "Share" button and type in the user's email address.  That user will now be able to edit the map with you.















16.  Make sure that before you leave the site you "Save" your diagram.  This is also the place where you can grab a public link to sent to others, so that they can see your completed work.
















Cacoo truly is a great tool for educators who use concept mapping as a brainstorming tool in their classrooms.  Click this link to see other concept mapping web 2.0 tools.