In my previous post about Promethean Boards, I reflected on the relevance of this tool ten years after it become popular in classrooms. The question became if education sees the value in, and is headed toward, personalized learning, is a seemingly teacher-centered tool like the Promethean Board still useful? It’s clear that Promethean became well aware of this dilemma and has revamped their instructional purpose. Instead of focusing on its strength as an interactive whiteboard, Promethean decided to build its own learning management system, comparable to the likes of Schoology and Google Classroom. With this Promethean has replaced its flipchart builder, ActivInspire, with an interactive lesson delivery system called ClassFlow. This post will summarize and explain what this means for teachers who having been using ActivInspire for years. Know that there may be some frustration, but overall this is certainly an improvement because ClassFlow is much more student-centered.
Create an account on Classflow.com, from there the user will see options to create polls, lessons, activities, and quizzes, as well as the trusted blank canvas called “Instant Whiteboard.” But the feature to know first is the opportunity to create a class almost instantly. Click on the “Open Class” button and it will show students how to connect with the teacher’s screen.
Students can go to the web address provided, or start a student account on Classflow.com and enter the access code. With this done, the students can complete teacher created polls, activities, etc. Many different activities and assessments can be built: drag-and-drop, matching, opinion polls, checks for understanding, crossword puzzles, and more.
Not only are these great tools to have, they are sent out to student devices rather than requiring students to complete them individually on the Promethean board. While that is certainly an engaging opportunity for students, and there is still a time and place for students to use the board, that novelty can wear off quickly and only engages one student at a time. Students can now work together on an iPad, Chromebook, or smart phone. If the teacher is fortunate enough to have 1:1 devices or has checked out the school’s mobile laptop cart, imagine how quickly checks for understandings can be achieved.
Regardless of how cool these features can seem, readers may be asking a very pertinent question, what can I do with my ActivInspire flipcharts? Hours and hours have been spent in the past to create flipcharts, they have been successful in providing instruction for my students, so now what? There is both good and bad in the answer to this question, but the good most certainly outweights the bad. Flipcharts can be converted into ClassFlow “Lessons”.
From ClassFlow’s Home page, click “Resources”. From here the user can click “Convert” and convert a saved flipchart to a Lesson. While looking slightly different, most features are the same. The one frustration could be that some formatting does not convert properly. Embedded videos and files may not carry over into the new Lesson and movable actions may have changed. But the teacher can now assign slides to individual students, allowing for fantastic differentiation and even, if done strategically, personalization. Checks for Understanding “Polls” are much more dynamic than what ActivInspire offered, as well.
Moving forward, there are a few choices to be made. ActivInspire will soon no longer be supported by Promethean, no more software updates will be provided. However, a teacher can still use the old flipcharts as much as desired by using ActivInspire, with the understanding that eventually the software will be obsolete. The user can convert flipcharts to Lessons, but should not expect the format to remain the same; it will still be useable and can offer a few more features than before. The most practical approach would be to be create Lessons on ClassFlow and only use the tried-and-true flipcharts on ActivInspire. ClassFlow’s expanded features and opportunities for personalization makes the transition a worthy choice.
To conclude my series on Reinventing Promethean Boards, I will speak with ClassFlow users and find out best strategies, triumphs and challenges, and how personalized learning has occurred with the tool.
By Joe Zappa