CMate: Collaborative Concept Mapping

CMate aims to provide a new form of learning environment that helps learners and their teachers to gain a clearer understanding of each learner’s knowledge and misconceptions. To do this, we use the tabletop to combine the privately constructed individual users’ concept maps. CMate also permits students to have access to a list of suggested concepts and linking words, or type their own words, in order to build a concept map that gives response to a question posed by the teacher.

Teachers can use a desktop concept mapping editor (CMapTools) to create the list of suggested concepts and linking words, and generate a Master concept map with the crucial or relevant concepts and links that learners should include in their maps.
As part of this process, learners need to identify where there is consensus and disagreement. We support this by providing a user interface which maintains the collaboratively created group map as well as each student’s individual map.

We illustrate the user view of  CMate with a scenario. Alice and Bob have just read  a text, “Introduction to Living Things”. They first each use a desktop concept mapping editor, CmapTools, to create a personal concept map capturing their own understanding of the key ideas in the text. These personal concept maps are exported in the CXL (Concept Mapping Extensible Language) format and loaded onto CMate.

This will serve two purposes:
(i) to extract the vocabulary of concepts and links used in individual maps and make it available to the users, and
(ii) to be able to highlight in the group map which concepts and links were present in each individual map.

Alice and Bob then start using CMate to create a collaborative concept map. For the collaborative process of creating a combined concept map, CMate starts with an empty map. It presents just blue concentric circles, which will help the learners lay out concepts at the levels, reflecting the generality of the concepts. This design differs from the classic layout of concept maps, to account for the different orientation of users around the table. In CMate, the most general concept is placed in the centre, with more specific concepts placed around it.


Each user is allocated a colour (e.g. orange for Alice and yellow for Bob), a user menu and a blue destructor, called the black hole.


R. Martinez, J. Kay, and K. Yacef. Collaborative concept mapping at the tabletop. In ACM International Conference on Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces, ITS 2010, pages 207-210, 2010.

R. Martinez, A. Collins, J. Kay, and K. Yacef. Who did what? who said that? Collaid: an environment for capturing traces of collaborative learning at the tabletop. In ACM International Conference on Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces, ITS 2011, pages 172-181, 2011. 

R. Martinez, J. Kay, and K. Yacef. Visualisations for longitudinal participation, contribution and progress of a collaborative task at the tabletop. In International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, CSCL 2011, pages 25-32, 2011.

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