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Thursday, July 21, 2011

From South Korea with love (for Moodle) - OKMindMap

OKmindmap (OKMM) is a South Korean web-based mindmap service. This service is touted by its developers as the world's first pure Scalar Vector Graphics-based, no-Flash-plugin-required web technology.
 It is Freemind compatible, is Web 2.0 feature-rich and the good news is that it can be integrated with Moodle.





It's developers/researchers are Professor Ho Won (Division of Electrical Electronic, and Information Engineering,Kongu National University, Cheonan, Chungnam), Jinhoon Jang, Kiwon Park and Myungsun Hahm (JinoTech, Dyryongdong, Yusungku, Daejunsi, Republic of Korea).

They have co-written a research paper entitled "Development of Universal Purpose e-Portfolio Mindmap
System on Open Platform". For those of you who are academically inclined, you can download it here. The paper's principal development tool is OKMM. More papers can be found here. Professor Ho's Moodle module page compilations are found here.


I. FEATURES

Here are some of OKMM's impressive features:
  • uses pure Javascript technology - no need for Flash 
  • cloud technology - can run on most web browsers without any plugin installation. 
  • plays YouTube videos within a node itself (note: as of July 2011, only works with Google chrome and Apple Safari web browsers)
  • fetch data from Delicious, Twitter, and Face book (Social Networking integration)
  • can be used as a ePortfolio
  • has been tested with up to 40 concurrent users who collaboratively built a mindmap
  • can be Google Search enabled so that the user can do Web searches within the application while building the mindmap(!)
  • export to Freemind, HTML, TWiki, PPT, SVG, PNG
  • import from Freemind and bookmarks
  • conversion from a mindmap to a structure chart (and vice-versa)
  • MOODLE PLUGIN (MOD)! More on this later in this post.
  • export to HTML code - hence a mindmap can be embeded in a Moodle webpage or label!
  • best of all, it is FREE and UNLIMITED as far as I know. In contrast, a Web 2.0 mindmapping service like http://bubbl.us allows a limited number of mindmaps to be created for every free account.
Click here to see more screenshots of what can be done with OKMindmap.


II.  CREATING AN ACCOUNT AT OKmindmap.com

There is a "Sign in" button located in the upper-righthand corner of the homepage. Click on it (see the diagram below).



By the way, if the homepage is full of Korean characters, do not lose heart. Choose English from the Language selector and you are good to go!
At the "Sign in" dialogue box, click on the Sign up link.


At the "Sign up" dialogue box, enter your registration particulars.


Click the "OK" button and you will be presented with the homepage. This time however, you will see your username at the top right-hand corner of the screen.

To begin creating a new mindmap, click on "Basic | Map | New":



III. CREATING YOUR MINDMAP

Enter the title of your mindmap and click the Create button.



You will be presented with a blank slate with a central node.


Michelangelo said "In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.". 
Looking at single-node mind map, do you feel like Michelangelo now?

After less than 10 minutes of the work, the mindmap can like this:

  
The gentleman in the image is smiling. I wonder why?


IV. YOUTUBE VIDEO

Here is the Youtube video that shows how I created the mindmap above. My apologies for the very audible (read: irritating) mouse-click sounds that you hear peppered throughout the video.
Anyway, on with the show!









V. HOW TO LINK TO OKMINDMAP IN MOODLE 1.9.x


In a gist, the procedure is to install the OKMM activity mod on your Moodle site and to setup the activity's  settings. The module has been tested on Moodle 1.9.7.

To install the OKMM module in moodle
1. Download the module from http://wiki.modulestudy.com/index.php/Moodle_Activities. Look out for the section named "OKmindmap integration". The direct link to the zip file is here.
2. Login to your Moodle admin account
3. Go to your Moodle site's "Site Administration | Notifications" to register the mod and to setup the MySQL databases.
4. Turn Editing on.
5. Add the OKMM activity to your Moodle page.


To do step 5, click on the Activity drop-down list. Don't look for an activity named "Okmindmap". Instead, look for the not-so-obvious "Freemind Collaboration" and click on it. I just saved you like 10 minutes of looking for the activity. You owe me one. In my humble opinion, the name of the activity should have been "OKmindmap". The current name is confusing as there is also a Freemind filter on Moodle.org. Oh well, never mind.

Enter a name for the Freemind Collaboration (OKMM) activity. The part that had me stumped were the fields named [[mapkey]] and [[password]]. Which key? Which password? The installation package did not contain a README file. Perhaps due to the language barrier. We can help out here. Maybe I can help out here by sending Professor Hon Wo a concise and accurate installation readme text file. We'll see.

Setup the Activity's settings


To solve the mystery of the [[mapkey]] and [[password]] settings, I sent off a quick email to the creators of OKMM. The developer named Jinhoon Jang replied. He was kind enough to email me this image that shed some light on what to enter in the fields (many thanks!): 


So I finally understood that the mapkey is that part of the URL of your OKMM that starts after the second front-slash.

In Jinhoon's words,
     To install new module in moodle,

     1. login admin account
     2. visit the page "Site Administration > Notifications", and moodle will install it.
     To add okmindmap activity in moodle,
     1. Share your map with password  type in okmindmap.com
     2. Add okmindmap activity in moodle
     3. Fill in the required fields.
     You can get map key in your map url on the browser.

So the password in question is taken from the password that you assign to your OKMM when you share it. To share a mind map on okmindmap.com, log into your okmindmap.com account. Then from the menu bar, choose "Transform & Share | Map share | Sharing settings".



Under the Mindmap option, click the dropdown box and select the name of your mindmap. In the example image below, the name of the mind map is "Concept Map". Choose Type of sharing as "Passsword". Yeah, that's three Ses! Then type in your Password. This is one dialogue box that does not feature a "Confirm password" field. So be careful to remember your password!



Warning!
Be extremely careful with the permissions! If you are making the mind map available to students on your Moodle course, tick only the "View" box. If you also ticked the "Edit" box, then anyone who accesses your mind map on your Moodle course can insert, delete nodes, and even save the entire mind map in its vandalised state!


If you were to make your mind map as "View"able and "Edit"able, then one can, on the Moodle page, press the Control-plus key to zoom in and the Control-minus key to zoom out. The contents of the mind map inside  the 2000x2000 pixel mindmap window will actually increase and decrease in zoom levels in this case.  However, because the "Edit" privilege is on, this would be courting danger as any user could, horror of horrors, delete nodes at will!

On the other hand, with the mind map's permission set to just "View"able, the mind map will refuse to zoom in or out. Tough! So your mind map would be safe from vandals, but would be difficult to see in its entirety within the mindmap window. I hope you can understand what I mean in this paragraph.






On the other hand, there is a VERY GOOD REASON to make your mind map both "View"able and "Edit"able - for collaborative work. 

LIGHT BULB! Imagine that you have a class of 30 students. You give them an assignment entitled "Create a Mind Map that charts the career of Taylor Swift". You divide the 30 students into groups of 5 students each. Then you unleash, erm.. let the students edit an OKMindMap where you have already built the first level nodes. You have six first level nodes. After 1 hour you inspect the mind map. Whoa! You are amazed. 

Is the above scenario possible? Well OKMM has been tested to have up to 40 students collaborating on a single mind map. Maybe they used a diali-up line or a T3 line. I don't know. So there you have it. A possible class or group assignment worth trying out. If you succeed, then congratulations. If you crash and burn due to slow internet line access, don't blame me okay?



These are bugs in the software that must be addressed by the developers, otherwise Moodlers and beginners alike may perceive the system as being inconsistent and erratic, resulting in slow adoption. Complete testing and squashing of all bugs in a system as complicated and powerful as this is never easy. The way forward is for a support forum discussion to be created for OKmindmap either on moodle.org  or on okmindmap.com. This will allow feedback to be given directly to the developers and will gradually mature the product. I hope that the international Moodle community and the South Korean developers wiill work closer together, and push through the cultural and language barriers and contribute towards this excellent module's development.


And so much for the passsword...I mean, password mystery. ;-) 

So now, back to the dialogue box. 





Refer to the above image. Filling in the fields is a wee bit tricky. Very challenging for non-techies. For people who are short of time, help is on the way!

First,  copy and paste the mapkey into the [[mapkey]] field. That is the part of the URL of your OKMM that starts after the second front-slash. E.g., the section in red as in: 
http://www.okmindmap.com/map/MzRjZDIyZWYtYjgwYi00M2QxLWJjMDEtMzg4NDlhY2RhNzg1


Second, enter the EXACT same password in the [[password]] field as what you had earlier entered in the "Share Map" dialogue box.

Third, enter the width and height values (in pixels). Don't settle for the normal values like 800x600 or 1024x768. You would want to choose a pair of large values, as in 2000 for width and 2000 for height. The reason being that a larger window for your mind map on your Moodle page will result in easier navigation for you.

Fourth, set the value of the "End Date" field (see pink areas above). The mind map can have an 'expiry date'! For some strange reason, the default date and times for both fields are the same. This means that the default values, if left unchanged, will cause your mind map to immediately expire once you click the "Save" button, LOL!!! So to prevent this, set the "End Date" so that it is some date in the future, like as in 10 years in the future. After all, your Moodle site will still be chugging along fine at that time, right? Hmm.

Click "Save and display". Here's what my mind map looks like on Google Chrome:



This is the MindMap that Jack...I mean, Frankie built.

You can try out OKMindmap on my Moodle site here. Go ahead, don't be shy. Dive right in.
Username: student
Password: moodle

For security purposes, I've set it up in "View" mode only. So that you can only pan around the window and collapse/open a node. No editing, deleting and saving is allowed. Otherwise I might end up with a one-node mind map. Not that you would do that. I was thinking of the other person down the road.

VI. AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

Like all IT products OKMM is not perfect. I would like to suggest some areas of improvement:

1. Include clear installation instructions 
Currently the installation zip file does not contain any instructions. Not even a readme file. So most Moodlers will be in the dark as to how to install the OKMM mod. With the instructions and screenshots in this (long) post, I hope that you will be able to install it on your Moodle 1.9 site with ease. This is a minor gripe as it can be easily implemented with a clear README.txt file (by me or some other kind soul out there).

2. Allow the user to view the entire mind map in a Moodle page
The main difficulty about viewing/editing the mind map in Moodle is in the navigation. The mindmap displays OK on my Moodle site, but to see the whole mind map, I have to increase the width and height of the window (e.g, 2000x2000 resolution or beyond), but I end up with a window where the borders stick out of the Moodle window. It would be nice to have a right-click mouse button feature that allowed the user to choose varying zoom levels, e.g., Zoom to fit window, Zoom+, Zoom-.

3. Include a full screen mode inside Moodle
A full screen mode would be most welcome so that the Moodle user need not click and drag with the mouse pointer to see other parts of the mind map.

4. Allow resizing of image nodes or video nodes after they have been added to the map
Once an image has been inserted into a node, the node dimensions cannot be resized or be made smaller. The image remains as its original size. This is, in my mind, the main reason why an OKMM can get cluttered easily.

5. Polish the English grammar and spelling in the interface 
An interface that is difficult to understand will put off some first-time users. The are some minor spelling and grammar mistakes in the interface. Considering that the developers first language is Korean, I would say that they have done a commendable job in the English wording department. This is because most of the module's interface is in good and clear English. Anyway, over time I am sure that the grammar mistakes and misspelling will be cleared up. To play my part, I will email to the developers any glaring English mistakes, or suggestions to improve the button and options labelling. Maybe you can too, if you have the time.

6. Offer Firefox support
At the moment OKMM works best in Google Chrome. The Youtube videos will not play inside a node when Mozilla Firefox is used. I am sure that over time, the developers will offer a solution.


VII. FUTURE DEVELOPMENT PLANNED


OKMM is a milestone in free Mindmaps with Moodle plugins. It was awarded the IT Innovative Solution Award for the first half of 2011 by Digital Daily, a major South Korean technology newspaper. The developers have a roadmap for it at least until 2013, and so it is here to stay.


Professor Ho Won and his associates have created a product with much potential in the field of education and learning. And they are still developing it. See the roadmap below, sourced from their website. They have plans to support mobile phones access of OKMMs.




VIII. ICON.GIF FOR THE ACTIVITY

At the moment, there is NO icon.gif for OKMM included inside the mod zip file. So I took the liberty of creating one myself. Well, here it is.

Feel free to use it. Place it inside the folder /mod/okmindmap so that the icon will appear next to the added activity name on your Moodle coursepage.
 

IX. BUGS

After many hours toiling away at this post, I have come away with a feeling that the product is not fully tested. 

Weird bugs do occur while building and editing the mind maps. Remember the undo command in OKMM? Well try creating a mind map with several nodes. Then try undoing (Ctrl-Z) and redoing (Ctrl-Y). You might be surprised by what you see. I have had an occasion when immediately after being loaded correctly on screen, the mind map's children all disappear. Poof! The solution was to delete the entire mind map and then start again. On another occasion, using Google Chrome, I edited on node's text description and all the fonts changed, rendering the words almost unreadble. So be warned. 


X. CONCLUSION

This has been a extremenly long post. Congratulations for reading thus far!

OKMindMap has many features that other mind maps developers with Moodle plugins (Ekspenso and Freemind) would do well to take notice off. Despite many bugs that I have highlighted in this blog post, and the relatively high learning curve, I highly recommended it for your Moodle site! 

OKMM is a worthy addition to any teacher's arsenal of online learning tools. It is a unique addition to any Moodle 1.9 site's collection of activity mods. I sincerely hope that it is made available for Moodle 2.x in the near (far?) future.

So, what are you waiting for? Enough reading! Action not talk is the order of the day. Fortune favours the brave. Dive right in by registering an account at http://www.okmindmap.com today! Create a mind map on the site. Download the moodle mod. Install it on your Moodle 1.9 site. Fire it up, give it a go and don't forget to feedback all bugs and incosistencies to the developers.  You can give feedback on the mod at this Moodle Lounge discussion thread. This is the Moodle Lounge thread where Professor Ho Won first announced his mind map on moodle.org.

Together we can make this free product the best of its genre.

Until the next time, happy Moodling.
Frankie Kam

Postscript
Did you know that OKMindMap has a Presentation Mode as well?
I cover that in this post.

OKMindMap also has  an embed HTML code feature so that you can embed a mindmap inside your blog, website or Moodle block. I cover that in this post.

OKMINdMap for Moodle 2.2 - An Update
If you're using Moodle 2.x, you will be interested to know that OKMMinMap has been updated. Surf here:
http://moodurian.blogspot.com/2013/03/okmindmap-plugin-for-moodle-23-and.html


End

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