Tutorials contents ; Documentation contents



Tutorial 2

By Simon Cross



This is the second of five tutorials introducing CompendiumLD. Each tutorial is divided in to a number of Parts, most of which contain activities to work through. This tutorial covers the following:

            * How to use and interpret icons

* Looking at your first design

* Icon descriptions

* Adding new nodes

* Adding new map nodes



PART 1: How to use and interpret icons


As explained in Tutorial 1: all nodes that you will use in CompendiumLD are composed of two main parts: an image (such as an icon, symbol or picture) and a label (the text underneath the image). In these tutorials you may find me occasionally referring to a node as an ‘object’ and the image used for a node as an ‘icon’. This may seem to be complicating things unduly but as these terms are used interchangeably by practitioners it is important to get used to this.


Visualisation and mind-mapping software like CompendiumLD works by helping you create representations of your planned teaching and learning. It helps you to create objects on the screen and build relationships between the objects by linking them together to show how they are associated. The process of visualising a design is discussed more in Tutorial 3, however, before doing that, let’s look at how CompendiumLD has been used to describe a teaching and learning activity created by someone else.


The first step is to be aware that a node (composed of an image/icon and a label) can be used to represent pretty much anything – this could be a real object like a textbook; an abstract object like an ideas, concept or learning outcome; an action or task; or a virtual object like a webpage. Nodes gain their meaning by the image/icon we chose for it and the text we enter in the label underneath.




Launch CompendiumLD and open a project. If the LD-OU stencil set of learning design icons (see Tutorial 1: Part 5) is not displayed in the Tab Panel then click the ‘Stencils’ tab at the top of the Panel and select the ‘LD-OU’ sub-tab. Let’s have a look at this stencil set.


Each of the images/icons in the LD-OU Stencil can be used to represent part of a learning design. Spend a minute or two trying to match each icon with what you think it should represent (you will have encountered the ‘map’ icon in Tutorial one so this has been done for you!):









What it represents





Student Output (e.g. for assessment)





Learning Outcome









Tool& Media











Activity map




End of Activity








 Compare your answers with our definitions for the OU-LD Stencil set shown on the next page.


It is possible that you came up with different definitions to us. This is an important outcome because it shows how individual designers may interpret visual icons or symbols differently. This demonstrates how important it is to have (at least a general) agreement over what we understand specific images to mean when we use them as nodes in our design – just like the key of symbols used on an OS-map. This shouldn’t stop you from using these icons to mean other things but remember to share their definitions with anyone who may use your map!


If your guesses matched ours then this demonstrates the value in using icons that give useful visual clues about what they are supposed to represent!



Role Node




Activity Node (New Map)


Opens (New) Activity Map Window


Standard Nodes




 Learning Outcome/Objective                    

 Student output (e.g. for assessment)

 Online Learning Tool

 End of activity                   



Hint: if hover your mouse over each of the nodes in the LD-OU stencil. You will see a brief description of the node (e.g.  ‘Activity’) and the keyboard short cut which can be used to create a new node (e.g. ALT-1).



 Here’s a supplementary question: Look at the other set of icons to the left of the Tab Panel – they are arranged in a narrow vertical strip on the left side of the screen:


How do you think these images/icons could be used as nodes in your map?


 We’ve used these icons to mean various things. For example, the notepad icon (dark purple) could mean a note the student makes (an output) or a note to yourself as the designer about your design.


Nodes are clearly central to CompendiumLD and in the tutorials so far you’ll have seen that there are a couple of sets of images/icons provided for you. When beginning to use CompendiumLD it is best to use these sets, and, whilst it is possible to create you own stencils of images, this process is for more advanced users and is not covered in these tutorials.


PART 2: Looking at your first design


Let’s turn now to look at a pre-drawn design for an activity introducing students to podcasting. You firstly need to load this map in to CompendiumLD. Only then will we be able to take a closer look at it.





 Go to CompendiumLD website (http://compendiumld.open.ac.uk), click on the link ‘Documentation’ and find the link in the bullet list titled ‘Examples of learning designs created using CompendiumLD’ , then click  ‘Tutorial examples’  and locate the link to ‘Tutorial 2 map’. Right click on this link and select the ‘Save as’ option. Save the file to your desktop, My Documents folder or another folder of your choice.


Now from the File Menu, select the ‘Import’ option and then ‘Learning Design File’ option.


Navigate to where you saved the file and click ‘Import’. A map node will appear in whichever map you currently have selected.


 Now double click on this node which should be labelled ‘Example 1’. A new map window will open showing a learning design mapping.




To read this map, start at the top of the ‘student task’ column (the central column of blue task nodes) and follow the line of Tasks down the page. Look at how the other nodes are connected to this central spine. You should recognise the images used for these nodes from Part 1 (above).



 How useful do you find this representation of the learning activity? How well do you think it communicates the key components, their inter-connections and the sequence of the activity? How much time might this save in getting the gist of the design over, say, having to read all the learning materials?


 The map will always represent an abstraction of reality and there will be benefits, and disadvantages, to using a map instead of, say, a textual narrative. Later tutorials will help you better understand these.


Now try moving some of the nodes around the map. To do this, left click and hold on the node image/icon, drag and then release. You’ll notice all the lines connecting this to other nodes remain. This is a major strength of this type of software allowing you to constantly re-arrange, re-order and re-structure a map whilst keeping those all important connections intact.


PART 3: Icon Descriptions


You can edit the label of a node by left clicking on the text label underneath the image. There are, however, other properties of the icon that you can edit such as its detailed comment or description, or the image used for the node. This next activity walks you through doing this.




 You get at all the options for editing, changing or copying a node by right clicking on its image/icon. A menu appears with many options. Here we’re interested in the top most one – usually named ‘contents’ (or occasionally ‘information’). Selecting this will open the information (pop-up) box. This box contains three tabs: contents, properties and views. Assuming you’ve just done Activity 2, use the instructions above to open the information box for the node labelled ‘Task 1. It should look like this:



 You should recognise the content of the top most field (white area) – this is the text used in the node label. Underneath is a larger field. You can use this for more detailed comments about the node – in this case it describes the task in question. The ‘Icon Image’ field gives the path to the image/icon used for the node


 Close the property box. Now open the property box for the node labelled ‘microphone’ (a yellow resource node). We can change the icon image used for the node by clicking on the small box labelled ‘./.’ next to the ‘View’ box.



You can use this pop-up Explorer box to find any image on your computer. For example, you could look online for an image of a microphone and replace the existing node with this. In some cases and in some situations, such as for people, places, objects etc. this can be a useful however think about how this may also affect the readability of the design.


For now let’s just select the same image as we’re currently using for this node (the ‘id_resource.png’ graphic). Select this and click ‘Open’.



 Across the top of the node information box there are two other tabs. Click ‘Properties’ and you’ll see there’s some basic information about when the node was created. Click ‘Views’ to see which map (or maps) the node appears in. Tutorial 5 talks more about what happens if you want to use a node representing one object (say a course text book) in several different maps.  For now, click the ‘Contents’ tab again and close the box by clicking ‘Ok’.



PART 4: Adding new nodes


In Tutorial 1 you have encountered two classes (or families) of node. There are:


·         ‘Map nodes’ which open to display the map contents when you double click them.

·         ‘Standard nodes’ (pretty much all other nodes apart from the map nodes). This is a group of what-you-see-is-what-you-get nodes that, whilst the images they use are different (see Part 2) all behave in the same way (they sit in the map as an object which you can move around, connect and edit).


The next activity explains how to add new nodes to the learning design you were working with in Activity 3.


 Let’s first add a new task to the sequence. The last task at present asks students to look at other podcasts and comment on them but perhaps students should also make sure they add this to their eportfolio for future reference? We can add this task as a new icon. To do this click and drag a ‘Task’ node from the from the OU-LD Stencil set (in the Tab Panel) in to the space just under the last Task node in the map (look back at Part 1 for how to open the OU-LD stencil and how to identify the Task node).



 The word ‘Task’ will appear under the node image surrounded by a blue box with the cursor marker shown in red. Edit the label so it reads ‘Students add podcast to their eportfolio’. Left click on any white space on the map to deselect the node.


 It is clear that students will need to have access to and use their eportfolio for the task you have outlined. Let’s add the eportfolio as a Tool object/node. Drag the Tool node from the OU-LD Stencil set in the Tab Panel and place it about two inches to the right of the Task node you’ve just added. You’ll be prompted to select the type of tool. Select eportfolio and then edit the node label to read ‘Student’s personal eportfolio’


 Finally, you need to show lines of association, or links, between the icons you’ve added and those that already exist.:


1. To show that you want the student to use the eportfolio in the last task you need to draw a line of association between them: right click and hold over the blue Task image/icon you added, drag the mouse pointer over to the green Tool image/icon for the eportfolio, and then release the right mouse button. The two nodes should now be linked (to delete links (or nodes) just highlight the line and either hit ‘delete’ or Backspace, or right click and select ‘delete’ from the menu).

2. To show the students need to use the output from an earlier task (the podcast they created) draw a line between the red node labelled ‘podcast by student’ to the task you added

3. To show the task you added follows the previous one (above it), draw a line between the previous task (labelled ‘look at and comment on…’) and the task you added. Make sure the arrow is going in the right direction!


Your finished additions should look something like this (see next page). Hopefully you’re already seeing how easy it is to create and join nodes together.


PART 5: Adding a map node


You should by now be familiar with the map node. You add one in the same way as standard object nodes – just drag the image/icon across from the stencil in to a map. The text you enter as the label to the map node will form the title of the map when you open it.




 Drag the Activity node (remember the Activity node is one example of a map node) from the OU-LD Stencil in the Tab Panel and place it in the map you were working on in Activity 5.


 Edit the label so it reads ‘Optional activity 1: Students vote for their favourite podcast’. Now move it near to the task labelled ‘Look at and comment on…’ (see below)


You’ll notice that things are getting a bit cramped. This often happens when drawing diagrams and means you need to move the nodes around a little to make the diagram clearer. This is all part of the design process. In this case, I move the ‘Course wiki page 2’ icon down a little:


 Now draw a line between the ‘optional activity 1 node’ and the ‘Look at and comment on…’ node.


Next double click the ‘optional activity 1’ map node icon you’ve just been editing. The title of the window that opens should read ‘Optional activity 1: Students vote for their favourite podcast’. The window itself will not yet contain any nodes because you’ve only just created the map! Add some nodes now if you feel inspired!


This activity shows how important it is that all map nodes have a clear label because this label becomes the title of the map itself. Not only will using clear titles mean you can easily identify the map window on the screen, it is this label/title that will be listed in the Outline View and, if the map is open, in the ‘Window’ menu (see Tutorial 1: Part 7).



What next?


 This is the end of Tutorial 2. Thanks for taking the time to work through the exercises. Please now move on to Tutorial 3 which will introduce you to forms of visualisation you could use and help you reflect on your own practice.








First published in February 2010 by the Open University Learning Design Initiative. With thanks to Andrew Brasher and Anna Page for their comments and contributions.