Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Visual Understanding Environment (VUE)

Came across this very interestring and useful tool from the Tufts Academic Technology. I have written about before as a mind-mapping utility. VUE appears to be much more than that. While I have not explored all the features yet, some things that stand out:
  1. Lot of flexibility in placing and formating nodes - shapes, fills, outlines
  2. Does not appear to have the ability to have a parent > child heirarchy but nodes and subnodes can be clustered to create something similar to a heirarchy. Does not allow collapsing and expanding subnodes attached to a node.
  3. Links can be labelled, colored, and can even have curves or "S" shapes.
  4. Extensive Keyboard shortcuts make it easy to zoom in, out, pan, focus, etc.
  5. The beauty of the software is the ability to create presentations from the map
  6. Each node can have text or images attached to it.
  7. Pathways can be created linking nodes/subnodes in various orders and then a presentation can be created that displays the text/slides
  8. When displaying the slides, moving the cursor to the extreme right will show all the nodes linked to the node being displayed allowing you to navigate your presentation in a non-linear manner
  9. Multiple pathways can be created in the same concept map.
  10. You can show nodes connected to a particular pathway by hiding the rest of the map.
  11. The map can be exported in multiple formats
  12. There is also a semantic search function that one can run on the concept map.
  13. VUE also allow import from datasets including Zotero. I have not tried that yet but sounds fascinating that it will automatically create concept maps based on the imported references!
  14. The part that I want to explore is how the map can be exported to OpenLabyrinth to quickly create virtual patient cases.
I am just scratching the surface as I have used this software for barely a week. I was running a course on "Technology in Teaching" at our institution and created the following VUE map.

During the course I took the participants on a journey from the fundamentals of learning theory (Yellow nodes) to understanding the learning environment (blue nodes) to the various technology solutions (green nodes). I created a couple of pathways that allowed them to see how each portion of the course related to the whole concept map.


  1. Nice overview! I recently discovered VUE and am finding it very useful, as well. I wanted to mention that the second part of #2 above is not entirely accurate, as you can "collapse" subnodes using the "pruning" function (though I must say the interface for doing so could be greatly improved). Check it out here:

  2. Eric,
    thanks for the comment. Will check out the pruning function. Looked at your blog, looks impressive, will have to come back and spend more time on it later.