How to Make an Ecomap With an Online Whiteboard

How to make an eco map using an online whiteboard

Published: February 16th, 2024

What is an Ecomap?

An ecomap is a great tool that allows a teacher to visualize the people who are important to their students. Unlike genograms, ecomaps are a visualization of a child’s or young person’s personal network. They can consist of all kinds of personal connections, not just family. This includes friends, neighbors, or even the school staff.

In practice, an ecomap resembles a conventional mind map or spider diagram. At the center of the ecomap is the name of the pupil making the map. You then instruct them to write down all the people and places that mean the most to them. In order to keep this activity structured and productive, you can pre-design an ecomap and then share the design with the classroom. It might also be helpful to do one yourself and display it to the class as an example.

Developing an ecomap with your students gives you a unique window into the context of their lives and is a great way for other students to find common interests. Ecomaps are especially useful for new students in class or at the beginning of the year as an icebreaker.

Benefits of an Ecomap

There are a number of benefits to making ecomaps in your classroom apart from what has been mentioned above. Ecomaps can:

  • Be a great way to understand and connect with traditionally more shy students. This is especially true for large classrooms where it can be hard for pupils to find a space to fully express themselves.
  • Be very engaging and are simple to make. If you are using a digital whiteboard or your students are using digital technology, like a tablet, to learn and contribute in class, ecomaps are a fantastic activity to fill any time between lessons.
  • Be the ideal student-centered learning activity as it puts the pupil doing the ecomap in charge of the information they share (they are always the center of the ecomap), whilst giving them the opportunity to express their interests.
  • Be a great activity to give students a break from intensive learning and allow them to focus on a more creative task that is still structured. Given the importance of social-emotional activities in teaching today, ecomaps can be a great introduction to SEL for older students.

How to Make an Ecomap with a interactive display

As we hinted above, making an ecomap or an ecomap template with an Explain Everything collaborative online whiteboard is easy and sure to get the creative juices flowing in your classroom. Just follow the steps below.

1. Decide Your Format and Your Theme

When making an ecomap or a template, it’s important to first think about what the map is going to contain. With an interactive learning environment like Explain Everything, you can add all sorts of media to your ecomap, from drawings and pictures from the clipart library to photos, audio, and video recordings.

For example, students could find pictures of all the people and locations in their personal network, or take videos from their afterschool club, and add them to their ecomap for a more dynamic presentation. Equally, more artistic students could draw portraits or items that they associate with the people or things in their network.  

With so much to choose from, it might be necessary to set some creative boundaries, but that’s entirely at your discretion as an educator. In all cases, you’ll need to decide on the format of your ecomap before you think about the design.

Equally, you’ll have to decide on the theme of the ecomaps. Picking what elements of a student’s personal network can appear on their map can be difficult, but we recommend not being too specific.  

2. Make Your Template

Once you’ve decided on the format and the theme, the next thing you’ll have to do is settle on the design. This will be relatively easy if you’re leaving your students to come up with their own. If you’re not, then you’ll need to consider how many nodes (smaller circles linked to the center) and connections to include. For young children and young adults alike, 10 to 15 nodes are usually plenty. You can even structure the nodes into different groups. For example, a template could have 15 nodes in total. Six nodes for family, three for groups, three for friends, and three for pets (all in different colors).  

Now all you need to do is share your template with your students. Explain Everything’s collaborative whiteboard allows you to share your template designs instantly with students’ tablets, meaning no one will lose their work and mistakes can be easily erased.

3. Collect and Present the Ecomaps

All that’s left to do is collect the brilliant work of your students and present them to the classroom. You could even ask the pupils to present their own as a way to build confidence and presentation skills. Collecting and displaying your class’s ecomaps is even easier with Explain Everything’s online whiteboard. Simply have the students send you their finished projects and then display on an interactive display like the ActivPanel for everyone to admire.

The benefits of Ecomaps

In conclusion, ecomaps provide an insightful and engaging way for teachers to understand the personal networks of their students. Beyond being a tool for visualizing connections, ecomaps serve as student-centered learning activities, fostering creativity and expression. The benefits extend to helping shy students open up, offering a break from intensive learning, and serving as a valuable icebreaker for new students. Elevate your teaching experience by exploring the possibilities of ecomaps on Explain Everything’s platform.

Learn how Explain Everything and the ActivPanel can transform classroom interactions!

Ecomap FAQs

What is an Ecomap?

Unlike genograms, ecomaps are a visualization of a child’s or young person’s personal network. They can consist of all kinds of personal connections, not just family. This includes friends, teachers, pets, and even after-school activities. In practice, an ecomap resembles a spider diagram with the subject’s name in the center.

How to make an Ecomap?

Start by placing the name of the subject of the ecomap inside a circle in the middle of the map. Draw smaller circles around the middle circle and link them to the center. Finally, get the subject to fill in the smaller circle with parts of their personal network.