I was recently contacted by Stefan Dobrev, one of four Bulgarian students who used Microsoft's development tools to create a new mind mapping software program called Bookvar. They created this intriguing application for the 2007 Imagine Cup, a global software development competition for students that is sponsored by Microsoft. The theme of this year's competition was education. Bookvar didn't make it to the final round of judging, but it was intriguing enough that these four talented young people were interviewed by Microsoft's Channel 9 video news network.
I found a couple of things to be intriguing about their efforts:
- Embedding images in a Bookvar map is accomplished via drag and drop. The program incorporates an image search function, making it easy to find images from the web. In the typical mind mapping program, you add a topic, and then attach an image to it. Bookvar turns this model on its head. When you drag an image or video clip into your map, the program creates a blank gray bar at the top, where you can then type in your topic name.
- Multiple people can collaborate on a map at the same time; topics are colored according to who submitted them. Microsoft's Sharepoint services can be used as the collaboration platform.
- Bookvar includes a file viewer that was built using Microsoft's Silverlight multimedia development platform (their competitor to Adobe's Flash).
- If you have multiple maps open in Bookvar, switching between them invokes a cool 3D effect that looks like a cube turning. Cool!
Bookvar was created exclusively for the Imagine Cup, but the team does hope to develop it further and eventually commercialize it. You can read more about it in the Bookvar Blog, which includes the Channel 9 video interview and video clips of the team's presentation to the Imagine Cup judges.
In his e-mail to me, Stefan indicated that the team is looking for educators who are using mind mapping to present their curriculum. They hope to team up with several teachers or professors to build some educational case studies around Bookvar, and use that to obtain funding from the EU's Leonardo da Vinci Programme, which aims to improve vocational education and training throughout Europe using innovative ways of education. If any readers of this blog are interested, you can contact Stefan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I applaud the efforts of this young team, and wish them much luck in their plans!