VCE IT Lecture Notes by Mark Kelly

Visualising Thinking


As an alternative to recording ideas textually, sometimes it is easier and more informative to describe thinking using pictures, charts, graphs, and other non-textual means. Since "ICT for visualising thinking" is flavour of the month in VELS, it has crept into VCE IT. The VCAA has been suspiciously quiet about exactly what they mean by this term, but they have released a few snippets of whisps of ideas.

Tools they mention include:

  • Decision tree
  • Mind map
  • POOCH: Problem, options, outcomes and choices
  • PCD (Possibilities-Consequences-Decision)
  • Venn diagrams
  • Fishbone diagrams
  • Spidermaps
  • Concept maps
  • Story maps
  • Tree diagram
  • T-chart
  • time-sequence patterns
  • cause-and-effect patterns
  • flow charts
  • PMI - Plus, Minus, Interesting

Feb 2008 - the VCAA refers you to:

Samples are at


See a spidermap at - copyright VCAA 2007.

They also say " These might range from simple 2D diagrams to sophisticated hypermedia documents containing hyperlinks that open up more and more associations for complex ideas.

The spider map for example, can be used to provide scaffolding to students new to graphic organisers as it presents a structure for them to begin with. The example below identifies six aspects of a project students need to consider when preparing their response. The ‘spider body’ contains the project name and the ‘spider legs’ have blank horizontal lines attached to them to encourage students to think about at least two elements they must investigate or learn about. The students’ responses are displayed in the boxes."


Decision tree, Flowchart

A map of decisions required and the relevant actions to be taken. The first example was created in Inspiration (very easy to use!)

Download the Inspiration file that created the tree shown above.

And this is an example of using a decision tree as a way of documenting emergency procedures (created with MS Word drawing objects - slowly and painfully!)

Mind map, Concept map

Mind maps have no real rules that I can find. They lay out ideas, thoughts, concepts in a free-form linked relationship map. Ideas can quickly and easily be moved, unlinked, deleted etc. A key feature to look for in a tool is flexibility and speed. When you want to brainstorm, you don't want to spend 5 minutes formatting shapes and drawing lines.



POOCH: Problem, options, outcomes and choices

More POOCH details can be found here but a POOCH looks like this:

In the page linked above, Michael Pohl ( says "The POOCH model aids students to think critically. It is a strategy that allows students to clarify issues by using logic in judging information. Technology students can use POOCH when generating and developing ideas to help them choose between options when designing... The POOCH model helps students in their decision making."


PCD (Possibilities-Consequences-Decision)

This example comes from

Venn diagrams

Remember year 7 maths? No, neither do I. Venn diagrams graphically show how subsets intersect or encompass other subsets. I made this one up and I think it's for someone who never got along with maths, I think it's jolly nice!


Fishbone diagrams, Cause and Effect diagram, Ishikawa Diagram

Looking like a fish with the head on the right and the tail on the left, created by Kaoru Ishikawa, this tool is used to make assumptions of the causes of a specific effect. It is often used in project management. This example comes from

This model of a cause-and-effect pattern diagram comes from an Inspiration template.
It has the cause-and-effect focus but lacks the fishy appearance, however :-)


This example is from It looks a lot like a concept map to me! I suppose the nodes are the hairy bodies and the links are the legs...

Story maps

"Use a story map (or linear string) to show the different settings using pictures and words. Arrows are used to link one step to the next." Source

Tree diagram

Shows the branching of a complex structure from its (literal) roots to its branches. Similar to a hierarchy chart.


Basically, a simple table to divide ideas up into related columns...

PMI - Plus, Minus, Interesting


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Created 18 Feb 2008

Last changed: February 12, 2013 12:58 PM

VCE IT Lecture notes © Mark Kelly 2001-