All of the major technology players, Microsoft, Apple, Google etc. have been moving their technologies and software over to cloud based computing systems for the creation, storage and backup of different forms of media created on various devices – computers, laptops, netbooks, tablets and even the humble mobile phone. So it comes as no great surprise that the major interactive whiteboard technology companies such as Promethean and Smart have begun to look at cloud based lesson creation and delivery in modern classrooms.
Promethean launched ClassFlow in beta format earlier this year. Recently, ClassFlow Version 2.0 was launched and it offers teachers a complete suite of lesson development, presentation and assessment tools stored in one location in the cloud. No more problems with missing or lost USB keys. To get started with ClassFlow teachers must register for a username and password on http://www.classflow.com. Once a teacher has registered and logged in s/he will be presented with the ClassFlow main menu.
From the main menu a teacher can setup classes, create interactive lessons using the Lesson Builder tools, design sophisticated Assessment Assignments using the Assessment Builder toolkit and organise various resources to be inserted into lesson cards or assessment assignments within any modern browser (Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari or Mozilla Firefox. Google Chrome is Promethean’s recommended browser though for using ClassFlow. When it comes to presenting and delivering lessons, this can be done using a desktop, laptop, netbook etc. connected to a digital projector, interactive digital projector, interactive whiteboard etc. just using your browser so it can be used on all platforms. In addition, computers, laptops, netbooks and tablets available and used in more and more classrooms today can be used for two way communication between pupils and their teacher for responding to assignments. Voting devices are no longer required, though if Promethean ones are available, they can still be used.
Easy access to Promethean’s own resource bundle for various subjects that ActivInspire users are accustomed to using will come as no surprise to teachers. As ClassFlow is cloud based, it is no surprise that Promethean have inbuilt facilities for accessing resources that a teacher may have already stored in the cloud so buttons to link to Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive (Skydrive) are provided. Teachers can also add resources from their local pc using an inbuilt an upload facility to their My Resources folder or search the web for images and videos to add to their My Resources folder.
The ClassFlow lesson creation tool has a much more basic set of tools than teachers using interactive whiteboard software such as ActivInspire will be accustomed to using. However, many teachers will find the basic toolkit which consists of a Select, Shapes, Text, Links, Pen, Highlighter, Clear Annotations, Undo and Redo tools adequate for creating interactive lesson resources containing text, images, video etc. Lessons consist of a set or cards somewhat similar to PowerPoint slides. Teachers can choose to use two sets of cards – Teacher Cards and Student Cards. Teachers can also use the Assessment Builder to embed assessment assignments within any of their lessons. Lessons created by a teacher can be kept available for the teachers own use. Teachers can also share lessons with other teachers and a short url link to share the lesson via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter is automatically generated. Indeed Promethean would really encourage and welcome teachers to share their lessons with the whole ClassFlow community thus building a comprehensive repository of resources for all ClassFlow users. By using two tracks for the sets of Teacher and Student cards, while presenting to the class the teacher could have a worked example question displaying on the Teacher card via the digital projector/interactive whiteboard and send out another problem on the Student card for the pupils to solve on their own devices. The default setting for student cards is that they will be automatically sent out to connected student devices. However this setting can easily be turned on/off. The teacher can also decide to Show/Hide the Student Cards at a click of a button. During the delivery of a lesson a teacher can easily poll students to check their understanding of lesson concepts or content using the in built Poll tool.
The ClassFlow Assessment Builder is a nifty tool for creating standalone assessments to assess pupil learning using a range of question types – multiple choice, short text, true/false, sort in order, math, equation and creative response. Assessments can be divided into different sections. The teacher can customise the feedback to a pupil if s/he get an individual question wrong, choose a manual correct or auto-correct option, have the question set presented in a randomised order, have the test timed or untimed, allow pupils to skip questions, resubmit answers, show the correct answer if pupil’s response is not correct, just with the click of a button for the most part.
Getting help at any time is very easily achieved by clicking on the Community link which will bring a teacher to the ClassFlow Support Community where a teacher can ask a question or search for an answer to a question already answered by other users or the ClassFlow Community Personnel. As new features are added, very useful ClassFlow instructional videos have been created and uploaded to Youtube. The easiest way that I have found to access these is from the ClassFlow home page, just before you login.
Promethean have produced a number of Teacher and Student apps for Apple IOS, Google Android and Microsoft Windows tablets and phones. These are available on the respective stores to simplify the interactive use of tablet devices and phones for lesson delivery using ClassFlow. I have been testing the use of some of these apps this week and their use will be explored in another posting next month.