I like a good mind-mapping tool. A mind-mapping tool is one that you can use to create a visually and content-rich map of any topic. Instead of the traditional linear outline (I, IA, IB, 2, 2A, 2B, etc), mind-mapping tools allow you to be a little more stream of consciousness. They allow you to bring all your ideas together, as they come to you.
Three mind-mapping tools that I have tried:
I have used Inspiration quite a bit. The price has gone up over the years, but it is a good investment. It is relatively easy to learn and will turn your flow charts into outlines, which can be exported to Word. You can easily toggle between flow chart and outline view.
I was very excited about PersonalBrain and attended a training webinar, however, it didn’t do what I wanted it to do (I wanted it to be Inspiration, which it isn’t). PersonalBrain has a web-based brain option (WebBrain) that will sync with your personal brain that lives on your computer. It takes a brain to follow what I just said. The one feature that I really want from a mapping tool is the ability to make an outline from my far-flung thoughts. PersonalBrain doesn’t do that…so I moved on. It has been a number of months since I tried it, and it was in beta, so things may have changed.
Popplet is fun, and I want to have fun when creating a presentation or course content. It kind of behaves as a bulletin board where you can hang your ideas. You can include an image or a video in your Popplet, but it doesn’t pass my litmus test of exporting as an outline. You can however, export the Popplet as an image or PDF file. Popplet video http://tinyurl.com/38wmsbn
This link to a Wikipedia page has a list of free and cost-based mind mapping tools: