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!

Price

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
@jonaudain


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.