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What are Drawing, Charting, and Mapping Tools?

Have you ever looked high and low for just the right picture to help get your point across? You could always draw your picture the "old-fashioned" way
using the "normal" drawing tools such as pencil and paper. But then how to get it into your presentation or document? With the vast sea of Web 2.0 tools available, there are many free or inexpensive online tools to help you create that special drawing, chart, or mind map.

Draw. You can draw maps, diagrams, cartoons, and more with online drawing tools. Some of these tools provide templates to use or adjust to your liking. Others have a blank canvas in which you create your masterpiece. Many sites let you view the work of others, some are collaborative, some let you build on what others have started.

Chart. Charts and graphs show relationships quickly and clearly. Online tools can help create the images you need to convey your message.

Map. Online tools provide road maps, outline maps, and mind maps. Whatever you need, you can find an online tool to help generate the image.

Using Drawing, Charting, and Mapping Tools in the Classroom

There are many uses in the classroom for drawing, charting, and mapping tools. Because these tools are housed online, students have access to them even after-school hours. Students can use these tools to create diagrams and drwaings for reports and/or multimedia projects. Here are a few ways to use these tools in the classroom.
  • Brainstorm research projects
  • Diagram workflow for projects
  • Manage projects
  • Diagram stories and books - recall, sequencing, etc.
  • Graph data collected in polls and surveys
  • Analyze data
  • Help students understand and present data they have collected
  • Design presentations
  • Help students see relationships, cause and effect, sequences, timelines, chain of events
  • Teach vocabulary
  • Provide tools for tudents to illustrate stories and reports
  • Planning and editing written reports, multimedia projects, research
  • Develop visual literacy
  • Provide tools for visual learners
  • Provide tools for non-verbal students to express ideas
  • Provide tools for non-English speaking students to express ideas
  • Generate ideas
  • Assess understanding
  • Diagnose misunderstading
  • Provide tools for digital storytelling
  • Create images and cartoons

Tools to Try

MindMeister A collaborative online mindmapping tool.
Gliffy Draw, share and edit flow charts, diagrams, technical drawings.
Bubble.us Create notes and create mindmaps online. Collaborative tool.
Free Timeline Generate a timeline and embed it in report or webpage
Frappr Interactive "social map"
FreeMind Open source mind mapping software written in Java
Google Earth Shows 3D overviews of major cities, mountains, and other terrain, as well as driving directions and maps. Also includes Sky. (requires software download)
Google Maps Generate maps and directions
Google SketchUp 3D drawing tools (downloadable software)
Graffiti Creator Funky fonts your students will love
Graphic Organizers Generate custom designed graphic organizers
Kerpoof Draw, color and share from your browser.
MakeBeliefs Comix Create your own comic strip.
ToonDo Create your own comic strips.
Mind42 (mind for two) Collaborative mindmapper.
Wordle Creates customized word cloud art from text you submit.