WikiBrains is a visual tool for knowledge discovery. It pulls from both brainstorming and mind mapping, though it’s not exactly like either concept. Crowdsourcing and visual knowledge curation are the main themes underpinning WikiBrains, and the aim is to encourage creativity by connecting the dots between topics. Users can browse and modify collections of related topics (“bubble maps”) or create their own.
The “Suggest” feature of WikiBrains makes it a good tool for brainstorming, particularly for broad and multifaceted topics. Each time a word is added to map, the new bubble displays a flashcard with some related information about the topic. The existing examples of bubble maps are also interesting to browse, and may inspire students who are exploring ideas for an essay or research assignment.
The process of creating a new bubble map is somewhat uneven. The “Suggest” feature is sometimes slow, and the site doesn’t provide any visual feedback so it can be hard to tell if you’re loading suggestions or if there aren’t any suggestions for your topic. The suggestions are also inconsistent: adding the first topic to a new map doesn’t always result in the same number of initial suggestions. In one instance, dozens of potential connections for “Literacy” appeared; on another occasion, “Literacy” only yielded three suggestions.
WikiBrains could be a great tool to have students use as an essay starter. Within the confines of a subject or broad topic, students could highlight specific themes and build a web of related terms to help organize their ideas. However, actually creating a new network of ideas isn’t always successful, and students may find the process more frustrating than helpful. As of now, WikiBrains is good for browsing the existing visualizations, but the map creation functionality isn’t quite there.