Digital thinking tools for better decision making
Digital thinking tools for better decision making

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Digital thinking tools for better decision making

3.3 FreeMind for argument mapping

In the next activity, you will learn how to use FreeMind. You will watch a video in which an argument map is created for the following short piece of text:

Technology has really brought changes to human life. The world has become a global village. We see things happening all over the world within just seconds of their occurrence. We speak to people far away from our areas.

This text is based on a contribution from Stanley (from Oloitokitok in Kenya) to a discussion on a global phone-in programme called Have Your Say (BBC, 2004; BBC World Service, 2007). The programme was originally broadcast on the BBC World Service.

Activity 5 FreeMind argument-mapping video

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Watch the video which explains how to create an argument map with FreeMind.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 1
Skip transcript: Video 1

Transcript: Video 1

In this screencast, you will learn how to use FreeMind. I will go through three examples in which an arguments map is created from a short piece of argumentative text. On the screen, you'll see the text itself opened in Notepad, and alongside it, the FreeMind editor. For the text editor, I will use Notepad, but any other editor or word processor will do.
So let's get started and open the first text for which I will create an argument map. Next, we create an empty map in FreeMind. Click on File in the menu bar, and then select the option New. You will see a new map appear with a grey oval in the middle. This is where you can enter the main claim.
Click on the text in the oval, and type in the main claim from the notepad text. When you are finished, hit the Return key. Now, we're going to introduce a supporting claim. Right click on the main claim, and select New Child Node, then select the Child Node, and type support and add the Green Tech icon from the icon bar on the left-hand side.
Next, select the node you've just created, and again choose the option New Child Node. Type in the text of the supporting claim. I'm going to add two further support relations and the corresponding claims. Rather than create the support relation for the nodes from scratch, I'll now copy the one we created previously and reuse it.
To do this, I click on the previously created support relation and then select Copy Single on the menu. Next, I go to the node under which I want to attach the support relation, and select Paste. I can then repeat the paste action to add the second support relation.
Under each relation, I also need to create a node for the corresponding claims. Rather than type the text for the nodes, this time I use a quicker method. I copy and paste it from the notepad text, copy the text, select the relation under which the text needs to be placed, and then choose Paste on the menu. The resulting nodes are, however, not laid out very nicely.
To change the formatting, right click on a node, and select Edit Long Node. You can then introduce some carriage returns. We follow the same procedure for the other node. Now that I'm done, I finish by saving my map. I choose Save As on the File menu. That allows me to enter a name for the file and choose a folder.
I can also export the map to an image file or, for example, a PDF document.
End transcript: Video 1
Video 1
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Move onto the next actvity where you will try FreeMind for argument maps.

Activity 6 Trying FreeMind for yourself

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Now that you have watched the video, try FreeMind for yourself. Without looking at the video, try to map Stanley’s argument:

Technology has really brought changes to human life. The world has become a global village. We see things happening all over the world within just seconds of their occurrence. We speak to people far away from our areas.

When you have completed your map, compare it with the map that was created in the video in Activity 5.


The final map from Activity 5 is shown in Figure 8.

An argument map for ‘Technology has really brought changes to human life on this planet’
Figure 8 The argument map from Activity 5

Your map may differ in various minor ways from the one in Figure 8. There are many settings that influence the appearance of a map. For example, Figure 9 shows the same map, but now with the main claim in bold, bubbles around all the nodes and a green background for the supporting claims.

The argument map for Activity 5 with minor variations in how it is realised.
Figure 9 The argument map for Activity 5 with minor variations in how it is realised

You may also have discovered that there are various ways to introduce new nodes to your map. For instance, you can introduce a child node with the New Child Node option, but also by choosing New Sibling Node on another child node.

Using the New Sibling Node option means that all child nodes are placed to the right of their parent node. In contrast, using New Child Node causes additional nodes to be put towards the left and right of the parent node. This gives the map a different appearance.

For instance, the map in Figure 1, which was created using New Sibling Node for the nodes at level 1, looks different when New Child Node is used instead. Now, the level 1 nodes appear to both the left and right of the main claim, as shown in Figure 10 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   (larger version of map).

An alternative visualisation of the argument map from Figure 1
Figure 10 The map of Figure 1 but now with the level 1 nodes created using New Child Node, rather than New Sibling Node

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