Review of XMind 2012

Author: Gerry Kennedy © September 2012
Software: XMind (Free) 2012
Category: Mind Mapping / Brainstorming / Webbing program
Available for: MS Windows XP, MS Vista and Windows 7/8 versions (as well as MAC OS and Linux)
Web Site: http://www.xmind.net/

Software programs can be described and categorised in their respective genres. XMind (Free) 2012 is a wonderful mind mapping, webbing and brainstorming program. It has recently been relaunched with a new name, look and feel as XMind 2012.

About the company: “XMind Ltd, a Hong Kong registered business, offers the productivity software tools and service. XMind, its flag product, is a great mind mapping and brainstorming software, and serving more than a million users around the world. Our purpose is to develop the best productivity tool, save people’s time and raise the efficiency.” http://www.xmind.net/about/

XMind will open its own file format as well as Mindjet MindManager and FreeMind formats. It does not boast to have all of the example files and templates offered by products such as ubiquitous Inspiration software, but it does have a great deal of potential in education in teaching and learning, as well as in workplace training and industry.

Definition of Mind Mapping

A mind map is a diagram used to visually outline information. A mind map is often created around a single word or text, placed in the centre, to which associated ideas, words and concepts are added. Major categories radiate from a central node, and lesser categories are sub-branches of larger branches. Categories can represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items related to a central key word or idea.

Mindmaps can be drawn by hand, either as “rough notes” during a lecture or meeting, for example, or as higher quality pictures when more time is available. Other terms for this diagramming style are: “spider diagrams,” “spidergrams,” “spidergraphs,” “webs”, “mind webs”, or “webbing”, and “idea sun bursting”.

[Source: www. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map ]

There are numerous mind mapping programs, at last count, I had documented about 67. Some are online, my favourite being www.bubbl.us. Some cater to very specific tasks and others are more aligned to application in computer programming, data analysis, collaboration (www. http://cmap.ihmc.us// ) or for business and commerce applications.

Mind maps can be used for:

  • Organising thoughts and ideas, opinion facts diagrammatically
  • Representing a problem in a non linear fashion
  • Condensing material into a concise and memorable format for study or arching purposes
  • For simplifying an argument or discussion
  • Problem solving
  • Constructing and representing an outline/ or framework of a design
  • Structure/ relationship representations
  • For collaboration and information sharing
  • As a representation of words and visuals
  • As individual expression of creativity and different thought processing
  • To be used in team building or as a synergy creating activity
  • Documenting information in a more amenable manner
  • Use of simple structures to convey complex ideas

Features

XMind has a number of very useful features, included in the diagram above are some that educators rely on for promoting lateral thinking. It has so many benefits for students who do not enjoy writing in a linear process, such as in note taking or word processing applications.

For a more thorough appraisal of mind mapping software that provides more background information, link to an older but relevant article: http://www.spectronicsinoz.com/article/universal-access-using-mind-mapping-and-flow-charting-software/ . For some excellent examples of mind mapping technology to illustrate issues for students with dyslexia, refer to http://www2.glos.ac.uk/gdn/icp/mindmap.htm.

When we give from the heart... Goals Mind Map Template
Figure 1 Lauren C Hart http://laurenhart.wordpress.com/2009/09/15/mind-mapping/mind-map-application-assignment-1-nvc-2/ Figure 2 http://www.mappio.com/mindmap/ericblue/goals-mind-map-template

Individual Needs

Possessing or offering one mind mapping or webbing tool in a school, TAFE or University is often not sufficient. Each program offers something different. FreeMind caters to students who wish to predominantly use text and accommodates users who use screen reading software. Younger students or those with acquired brain injury or visual processing disorders require simple maps and webs (e.g. Kidspiration). Others require text to speech or the ability to work with voice recognition software (e.g. Dragon Naturally Speaking). Increasingly, Apps are appearing on iPads and Android tablets that offer powerful and useful mind mapping features.

Changing School Culture

Until educators embrace and use technology in their own professional capacity will students converse and discuss the benefits (and disadvantages) in using different software genres to meet their individual needs. Time must be provided to play experiment and explore. The best PD is to allow students to present their findings to staff! Other students need encouragement and support and be guided as to how to harness the functions and features in software programs. Teachers and support staff need to be facilitators as well as mentors and not be afraid to allow students to move ahead and be in control. Students can drive the cultural change that must occur in our schools if we are to fully capture and realise the opportunities that mind mapping, and other software genres, offer.

In Summary

XMind Setup Wizard XMind is open source software so it is free to any individual or school to promote and use at school or at home. It is a simple download and install. Anyone can access it and any student can benefit from it.

Education is ongoing and students need to realise that skills learnt and mastered in school will hold them in good stead for further education, employment and training. Well honed study techniques and strategies underpin successful candidates in all endeavours. Learning is lifelong, and in using and applying different technologies, students can work smarter. So can their teachers!

XMind software caters to people of all ages, gender and ability. Disorganised and struggling students, as well as disadvantaged students and students with different abilities, deficits, perceptions and attitudes to learning definitely exist in our schools, training centres and colleges. Many are floundering. Some just give up.

We must assist, support and direct them to a variety of options. Educators need to customise the curriculum and modify the content to cater to strengths and intrinsic motivators. Differentiate not just the content but the tools with which they negotiate tasks. Inspiration V8, for example, is a great mind mapping tool – but may not accommodate every student’s needs, for a variety of reasons.

Literacy tools and other inclusive technologies make a significant difference to students’ lives. They provide new ways of attacking the same problems. They represent the technology of 2012 and give them opportunities to shine and show what they know, how they think and how they process information and data.

Please share this article and help promote inclusive practices and technologies, such as XMind 2012 software. Today, this should be common place and not have to wait for extra funding, political expediency and/or gamesmanship. I love the Nike approach – Just Do It!


Useful Resources

Export to XMindA useful and relevant article: http://www.spectronicsinoz.com/article/helping-students-with-literacy-difficulties

Background and other useful links to mind mapping:
Dyslexia Resources and links: http://www.dyslexiahelp.co.uk/resources.htm
International Comparison on Accessible Technology in Higher Education

System Requirements for XMind 2012

Technical Specifications for the MS Windows version:

The following are the minimum requirements needed to operate XMind 2012 on an MS Windows computer, using a desktop, Netbook, NoteBook or Ultra light model:

    • Intel 1.8 GHz or higher Processor (current i3 or i5 or AMD equivalent)
    • Windows XP, MS Windows Vista and 7 versions (including 64-bit editions)
    • 1 or 2 GB is recommended on Windows Vista and possibly 4GB for Windows 7 or 8
    • 34.2MB download
    • 2 GB Free hard disk Space

Note: XMind exports to other popular mind mapping formats as well as to HTML, Rich Text Format (RTF) as well as to plain text. It is open source so is available for MS Windows, MAC OS and for Linux operating systems. It also exports to MS Word and to MS PowerPoint! There are also portable versions (as in MyStudyBar).

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About Gerry Kennedy

Gerry Kennedy is an Independent Information and Inclusive Technology Consultant, working in private practice in Melbourne, Australia. He has specialised in the areas of special needs, rehabilitation and assistive technology support in education and employment for over 27 years. A teacher of 31 years, he currently works at East Burwood SDS school part time, as an ICT Teacher.

Gerry has had experience working in all states in Australia and Territories. He advises from Early Education and Pre-school through to secondary schools, having lectured to TAFE and University to under and post graduates. He frequently publishes articles and software reviews on numerous web sites and in journals and magazines.

Gerry promotes leading practice in the implementation and deployment of innovative ICT and Inclusive Technology in education and training. He consults, trains and advises parents, therapists, and other education and therapy related professionals as well as school personnel in how best to utilise and harness the features and functions of mainstream and specialised software as well as assistive device implementation.

5 Responses to Review of XMind 2012

  1. What i like a lot about XMind is that it is a wonderful alternative for people who don’t want to(or can’t) afford to buy Mindmanager for more than $300 USD.

    XMind can read the Mindmanager file format and also export to it. So no need to spend lots of money when you have to work on a mind map with co-workers who use Mindmanager :)

    Thanks for the review!

  2. Gerry Kennedy says:

    Hello Arjen
    Thanks for your comments. XMind’s ability and capacity to import and especially export to so many different file formats, makes it very flexible and useful. When used with TTS programs such as Natural Reader, SpeakComputer or Orato, it becomes a very powerful visual writing tool.
    My kind regards
    Gerry

  3. Virtual says:

    It is a good program, but do not know why they promote it everywhere as “free software” when most of the export options are limited, unless you pay:
    https://www.xmind.net/pricing/

    Yes could accept pay by adding Gantt charts, it’s cheaper than other options but paying 100 u$s for the full option is not exactly “free software”.

    • Gerry Kennedy says:

      As with all Freeware or software companies that offer free versions, it is in how it accommodates users and the gives them the opportunity to use tools, functions and features to assist and help them. The Xmind free and portable versions do offer a number of terrific features. If users wish to upgrade or purchase the full version, then that is their choice. Thanks for your comments.

  4. Michael says:

    thanks for this post. I been using XMind(free) for about a year now & its a life saver for me . For a free software it has alot of features & I am more then happy to buy the full software when I need it to support its development .
    The next thing I am looking for is Projects management software to manage projects & files on windows . I am NOT looking for an online solution as I have lots & lots of files & need to work offline .I a web designer / developer so if you have what I need let me know :D

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