Time to go with the flow: the rebirth of the interactive whiteboard

Time to go with the flow: the rebirth of the interactive whiteboard

As a senior lecturer in Primary ITE at Winchester University, Jon Audain knows a thing or two about modern teaching. Jon is one of our ClassFlow advocates, and he’s written a guest piece for ResourceEd about his experiences using interactive whiteboards over the past decade.

One of the most pleasurable aspects of working with the next generation of teachers is witnessing their engagement with learning to use new technology to support their teaching and learning. Recently, I have been introducing the magic of the interactive whiteboard to Year 1 trainee teachers. Reminiscing with the students, it seems unbelievable that the most ubiquitous tool used to support teaching and learning is over ten years old.

Around the time when I became an AST in Hampshire, the county provided money for each school to purchase their first interactive whiteboard. Schools had a few options to choose from, with Promethean panels leading the way, among others. Technology was different in those days during the landscape of large government investment in technology (Harnessing Technology Funds, BECTa, VLEs, IWbs). My Year 3 class all remember the day our interactive whiteboard landed from ICT Heaven, a gift from the Gods of Finance, and sighed a sigh of relief that I would no longer be dragging them to the other side of the school where the only other Interactive Whiteboard was situated.

A changing landscape

Now, the ICT landscape is somewhat different a mixed economy of laptops, computers, interactive whiteboards, panels, and of course an array of mobile devices. As schools invest in more technology, how do they draw all this together in a cohesive way that enhances the learning of the children they teach? And how will this be any different from its original intention?

Changing classroom pedagogy with ClassFlow

Conceptually, the original interactive whiteboard was developed from the business environment where the relationship between the presenter and the audience is a two-way process of a transactional nature. Schools are different. Learning is different. Therefore, we need a mixture of different methods which are dependent on the type of learning. The original whiteboard software couldn’t embed hyperlinks, images, text, sound or incorporate the use of ‘special tools’. Even if some children work at the board together, it still makes it difficult for any teacher to include all pupils for some or all of the time.

Enter stage-left, new software developed by Promethean: ClassFlow. It has one simple aim, to allow practitioners to deliver lessons whilst engaging students in the process of the delivery with interesting features.

File types

The software is online, as a well as providing a desktop application which is being developed (further details).

You wouldn’t know this software was developed by an interactive whiteboard company. Its aim is for teachers to integrate all their interactive whiteboard and PowerPoint files, regardless of the board they use to present it on. So even if teachers have alternative file types, they can import them into ClassFlow in one form or another. This means that reinventing and updating the wheels does not take as long as you think!


Best of all, it’s completely FREE. There’s no catch, believe me I’ve asked and I was sceptical but ClassFlow is completely free.

A range of different uses

ClassFlow can be used to create standard lessons, however, the range of different uses continues. There are tools to:

In fact, there countless different uses, buttons and options. However, the three that really make this a game changer from existing whiteboard board software is the ability to connect students to a lesson, the ability to ‘poll’ learners, and to use student cards.

Connecting learners to a lesson

This is hardly an original idea as mobiles are used increasingly in the classroom, and there are many apps such as NearPod that produce content for learners to follow and engage in. However, the ability to be able to quickly connect students using any device with an internet connection is invaluable. As schools increasingly have a mixed economy of tablets, laptops and desktops, the ability to direct students quickly to a web browser, provide them with a code, and then have them see the exact content you are displaying is a very welcome prospect.

There is also the concept of setting up your students with individual logins so teachers can group children, track their answers to polls and provide assessment data.

Students visit: classflow.co.uk/learner then type in the code and click join class. They then enter their name and then they have joined the class.

Polling learners

As well as connecting students, Promethean always had the ability to engage learners using learner response devices (ActivExpression and Activote). Many schools may even have a set that they use regularly. ClassFlow, however, removes the physical device and provides a virtual one. The teacher is able to poll their class, asking them a variety of questions from multiple choice to completing full text fields.

Student cards

Teacher and Student Cards Sending cards to individuals and groups

What make ClassFlow particularly distinctive is the ability to send cards to individual pupils or groups. ClassFlow software allows teachers to send cards directly to learners devices, or have customised student cards that appear automatically when advancing through a lesson.

Jon Audain
Senior Lecturer in Primary ITE (ICT/Computing & Music)
University of Winchester

So, while interactive whiteboard technology has been in schools for over a decade, it’s encouraging to hear that education experts still believe this next-generation resource is at the forefront of edtech. ClassFlow‘s free collaborative software is the ideal platform for teachers using interactive whiteboards in their classroom.

Brrrr...2017! Dipping the blog toe into water...

17 Goals for 2017
All I've been seeing lately when scrolling down my social media newsfeeds is how 2016 has been an awful year, but despite Brexit, Donald Trump and the deaths of many celebrity icons, personally, I've had an above average year. I've achieved a lot of things I wanted too, had some good times and despite feeling uncertain as to what the future holds, I keep reminding myself that the element of surprise is what keeps things interesting. So, looking onwards and upwards to 2017, here are 17 things I want to achieve/improve on/have got done by the end of this coming year.
1) Be more spontaneous!

It's been a while since I've woken up in the morning and thought "let's do this today", let alone actually doing it. Anywhere I go is usually planned at least a week in advance so I have chance to build myself up to it. However, I kind of miss the excitement of just making a decision there and then. It might be difficult at first, as without a plan, there's a lot more uncertainty, but too much planning can take the excitement out of life.

2) Be more involved within the blogging community

- Something I've been doing on and off this year is twitter chats, I even hosted one back in September! I need to keep getting involved both with this and other aspects of blogging like events and what not and be open to more opportunity.

3) Read at least 10 books

4) Finish PR course

I'm currently studying with the Open Study College and I'm enjoying the Public Relations course I'm on, I want to finish and have my certificate before the year's up and then start thinking about what's next.

5) Reach a bigger audience through Pinterest

I've read loads of blog posts on how Pinterest is good for reaching potential readers, and having dabbled in promoting my blog somewhat on the platform, I didn't really stick at it.

6) Save at least £100 in coupons and cashback
This year, I've given myself a target of £100, so it means I need to save £8.50 a month through either couponing or cashback sites/apps. Should be easy enough!

7) Keep being creative

8) Apply for a Passport

I've never been abroad before, but I'd really like to start by going (on a short flight) to somewhere in Europe. I've got quite a few UK events planned/booked this year though, so it might have to wait until 2018, but I may as well get the passport sorted.

9) Have a back-log of posts

It'd give me so much more free time, and then there wouldn't be three week gaps in between posts sometimes.

10) Save £500

I'd quite like to set up a fun fund for 2018, so if I put away £41 a month, I'll have that by the end of the year to play about with.

11) Branch out with the blog - Contact Companies, Try Guest Posting

12) See loads of bands live

I'm going to see A Day To Remember & Neck Deep to start the year off, then Slam Dunk in May and depending on how the line up shapes up for Download Festival I'll be winging myself there too.

13) Be more healthy.

14) Take Raymus to a beach.

15) Create a new blog header.

It just needs to be done, my current one is appalling since I've changed my blog template.

16) Open up an online store

I've been working on different T-shirt, Print & Sticker designs for much of this year, and I'd love to open up a big cartel or an etsy to sell them.

17) Stay Positive.

So those are my 17 Goals for 2017 and I'm pretty positive I'll have all these points done by this time next year. I just wanted to wish a Happy New Year to whoever's reading this, I hope you have a good one.

Tim Ryland's blog post

Hampshire Primary ICT Conference, Winchester
July 2, 2015

Following last year’s whole day conference with the great bunch of Hampshire Computing Coordinators, it was an honour to be invited back this year , to The Holiday Inn, Winchester to carry on the exploration of digital learning in so many wonderful ways.

Big thanks to Sue Savory, County Computing Inspector/Adviser, Elearn Eteach Manager and Virtual School Inspector/Adviser, and to Caroline Cain, Workforce Development Support Officer, supporting training provision for HTLC and Children’s Services, Sue Whittaker, IT Consultant, Hampshire IT (Children & Schools) for coordinating our contribution to this superb event.

Thanks to Sue for sharing her thoughts:
It is that time again when the Hampshire Computing/ICT Conference is happening. For the second year in a row we invited Tim Rylands and Sarah Neild to inspire and motivate us when using technology as a tool for learning. For those who left with such fantastic ideas last year and are returning this year we are glad they came prepared to be further inspired and add to their collection of resources and good ideas. The format was very different from last year not least because Phil Bagge, Jon Audain and Emma Goto delivered sessions where they shared resources and lesson ideas that they find work well at KS1 and KS2. So we are glad delegates came prepared to listen and play.

Today, rather than leading the whole day, as we did last year, we shared the input with three stars from the Hampshire firmament:

Well done to Emma Goto, Senior Lecturer in Primary Education, Faculty of Education, Health and Social Care, at The University of Winchester, for leading a session asking big questions about computing:

In my session I asked the Hampshire computing co-ordinators to consider what Reception children in their schools should be learning in terms of Computing. The answer was ‘not computing’! However we consider the role of toys and technological tools in aiding children’s communication, overcoming barriers to learning, accessing expertise, enhancing engagement and providing an audience. We also discussed the need to help children understand the digital world around them and develop skills that support them to be independent learners. We went on to consider the kinds of activities that help children to think computationally. We identified a range of problems that help children to think computationally, from completing a jigsaw, to moving water from one container to another, most of these had very little to do with technology! Finally we went on to discuss the challenges when building on this learning in Key Stage One. We focused on the need to not lose the rich uses of ICT, ensure appropriate challenge and consider carefully how we develop persistent learners.
Here is the list of ideas delegates had for activities linking them to computational thinking approaches and concepts – https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5RYhuKkh3OHbGxOSmEzdUFtY3c/view?usp=sharing
Here is my Powerpoint from the day – https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5RYhuKkh3OHLTdKTnVWOXdpODQ/view?usp=sharing

Phil Bagge, (Computing Inspector/Advisor HIAS, CAS Regional Coordinator, CAS Primary Computing Master Teacher, CAS Primary Group facilitator, Computing Planning @ http://code-it.co.uk/, http://www.pythoncode.co.uk/, and http://www.ictvideohelp.co.uk/
Working at Ringwood Junior School, Calmore Junior School, and Otterbourne Primary School) ran a session entitled “Recipe for Computing Success”

Phil shared a recipe for computing success by highlighting the importance of developing algorithms into code and the benefits of increased pupil buy in at home of having a real output for their algorithms. He encouraged teachers to avoid a shotgun ICT approach to programming languages and build some depth in a language whilst dipping into others. He stressed the need to teach programming elements but provide lots of investigation time for pupils to make the learning their own through repurposing and adapting. He advised teachers to take a longer term view on training and assessing, discovering what is possible before locking in assessment. Phil was passionate about using computing to promote resilience and independence. Encouraging teachers to build learning communities that embrace failure, see it as normal and learn from it. He shared about spotting learnt helplessness, explained what it is and encouraged the conference to challenge it where they find it. He also shared practical debugging tips.
You can find Phil’s online resources at http://code-it.co.uk/csplanning.html, Primary Debugging Strategies at http://code-it.co.uk/assessment/debugging.pdf. You can sign up for notification about Phil’s book at http://code-it.co.uk/scratchbook.html. His slides from today can be found at http://code-it.co.uk/rcs.pdf His original blog post on learned helplessness can be found at http://code-it.co.uk/articles.html

Jon Audain @jonaudain, Author and Senior Lecturer in Primary Education (ICT/Computing & Music) at The University of Winchester had some more computing fun:

So who’s afraid of the Big Bad Computing Wolf now? The first session after lunch and what to do with a group of teachers who are full up with delicious food? There’s only one answer…a class story! The story told of a princess with a large and generous heart who later on through fond memories splits her heart into many pieces so the people connected with her life could remember her as she marries her prince. However she ends up empty and trying to regain the pieces to restore balance.

The same could be expressed for computer science. Have we given too much of our heart away whilst the subject of ICT is vast. We explored the range of the ICT subjects connected to the 6Cs of Education and how ICT can address all those needs.

Stories and DIY cutting and sticking were the next order of the day as within the tables we constructed a paper tree to represent the ICT involvement not only in one school but collectively in our schools from around the table. We then looked at work from the other tables and considered our future practices exploring opportunities for networking and ideas.

Category: 1) Events and Training days

Winchester’s student teachers support Guinness World Record attempt

Student teachers from the University of Winchester helped more than 3,000 children and adults play their way into the Guinness World Record Book by scrutinising a musical stunt at the Royal Albert Hall.

Winchester’s volunteers observed 3,081 musicians from across the UK, Jersey and Gibraltar as they successfully broke the record for the Largest Ocarina Ensemble, beating the previous record of 831 players. The instrument used in the record attempt, the Ocarina, is a small, round flute.

The feat was staged during the annual Barnardo's Supporters Concert. Winchester’s eight Year 2 BEd students, with music specialisms, were among 130 independent observers with the important role of keeping their eyes on participants to ensure they played throughout the challenge. The performance was a new piece by composer Douglas Coombes called Ode to a Joyful New Star – a mixture of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, New World Symphony and Ode to Joy – and was accompanied by the Royal Albert Hall Grand Organ.

The record attempt proved to be a great learning experience for the University’s students as they were able to see 1,200 primary schoolchildren, and an audience of previously unrehearsed adults, taught to play the Ocarina by expert David Liggins, Ocarina Workshop.

“This was a unique way for our music students to observe teaching on a large-scale,” said Jon Audain, Senior Lecturer in Primary ICT and Music in the University’s Department of Teacher Development. “The power of music and a love of music are developed through purposeful musical experiences. Collaborative music-making and performing are important skills for children to develop.

“This concert provided a positive and extremely memorable experience. Finding out at the end that the world record had not only been broken but smashed by so many people was a truly humbling experience. The fact that our Winchester music students were able to participate made it even more special.”

The University re-established its BEd/MEd with Music Specialism this year. The course is delivered in partnership with the University's Foundation Music department, Hampshire Music Services and the Portsmouth and Hampshire Music Hubs. It enables students to develop the skills of a primary music practitioner and music co-ordinator, as well as developing skills in singing, performing, composing, and listening and appraising.

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