Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Outlining Roars Back

To outline means to organize the relationships between the main and subordinate points of an idea, activity, project or argument. Digital outlining adds the ability to move, minimize or hide less important details. Though the paper-based use of outlining had fallen into disfavor in writing classes, its fluid digital reincarnation brought it back to life in school classrooms and adult planning activities. The announcements of free tools with strong or complete online operations have brought it roaring back into action. Check out the recent announcements of Cmap and Inspiration (for handhelds and Smartboards) as well as management organizers such as Backpack and Basecamp for new ways to think about the concept of outlining.

Outlines provide concise visual ways to organize knowledge in order to create meaningful change in the world. Outlines create an organized bridge of prioritized steps between the Look and Evoke stages of problem solving. Such tools adress the overwhelming mass of information presented by the world at large and the complexities of selecting different computer applications.

Concept maps go beyond text outlining to provide a very fluid form of outlining. Outline use contrasts sharply with rote learning with reports showing that it is not only being better for meaningful learning but better at fostering long term memory (Kaczor, 2005). Outline creation is useful for both building understanding and testing or evaluating that understanding. This way of organizing helps take the results of brainstorming and planning and makes it easier to organize, prioritize and prune the thoughts that emerge, then proceed with the expansion of the structure that is left standing. The ease of use and efficiency of computer-based outlining brought new life and power to the concept.

Click outline essay to go deeper into the idea and practice of outlining.
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