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ClassFlow Desktop - Don't phase out ActivInspire

WendyWendy Posts: 207 admin
edited on June 21 2017 in Software Solutions
Per customers requests, I am creating a new topic for this discussion from our (soon to be migrated here) ClassFlow Forum. 

Support:  No need to respond to my post, it is a place holder to continue this discussion. 

Original (full) conversation can be found here until the close of the forum on the 30th of June, 2017
https://community.classflow.com/classflow/topics/do-not-phase-out-activinspire

Conversation Subject:  Do not phase out ActivInspire. 
I will copy the customer responses below for those that consented to have their information posted here: 

kimashcraft Member
I have to agree wholeheartedly with this.  I have used ActivInspire for many years as a teacher and was an expert at using it (I took a course to get certified in it back about 2010).  Now I I am the Tech integrator at my school and many of my teachers love the features that are available in ActivInspire.  It's part of the PD I do for teachers - to teach them the not so easy but oh so cool features.  

I also jumped on the ClassFlow bandwagon several years ago before it was even integrated into the Activ software as an add-in.  I love the ability to have student work pass back to the board. This is a feature that could only be achieved with the ActivEngage set that I had, but ActivEngage was not as robust as the ability that ClassFlow offered with drawing, etc.  

HOWEVER, ClassFlow does not come anywhere close to what ActivInspire can do as a software. Sometimes the teacher just needs to build a really fantastic AND STABLE lesson to deliver to students and they don't need students to connect to it.  Our lower and middle school divisions don't even allow cell phones in the buildings at this point.  Free apps that leverage mobile technologies are getting to be extremely commonplace.  It's misguided to put the development focus there because that's not the real value that ActivInspire has, in my opinion.  

Also I find ClassFlow anything but stable, even though I think it has fantastic features in its own right.  I've used the ClassFlow ActivBoard add-in, the web version and also ClassFlow Desktop. They're great - but they don't replace ActivInspire!  ClassFlow has a very long way to come close to the deep functionality of ActivInspire.  We also use Epson software/hardware in some of our rooms.  It's also poor in comparison to ActivInspire.  

I am the person responsible for choosing our hardware and software for interactive boards for our entire school, which is Pre-K-12.  Unless I see some seriously upgraded features in ClassFlow making it more similar to ActivInspire after ActivInspire is gone, I will seriously be considering the switch to SMART.  Saying that consumers are getting an upgrade with ClassFlow is dishonest.  We are getting DIFFERENT functionality by way of mobile technologies, but we are not getting better software.  I pray that Promethean proves me wrong.    





Answers

  • WendyWendy Posts: 207 admin
    John Rees Member

    I entirely agree with the comments made by the previous contributors. If nothing changes ActivInspire is practically dead. No support after June 2018 presumably means that it will not be possible to activate a new installation of ActivInspire, for example if a new computer needed.

    A very important point which has not been mentioned so far is that the migration of ActivInspire flipcharts to ClassFlow Desktop doesn't really work. ActivInspire has a huge range of very valuable functions which are used in most flipcharts but not supported by ClassFlow Desktop. For that reason the result of the conversion is not fully functional. I have tried converting several flipcharts and in no case was the result usable. This effectively means that none of the flipcharts which my colleagues and I have developed in the past will be usable in future. One of the huge benefits of using digital media, that you can always easily access your previous work, will no longer apply.

    Our school is a German secondary school (Gymnasium, classes 5 to 13). We have been using ActivBoards for the last eight years, making the results of the lessons and other materials available to students on the school Moodle platform. For the last six years we have additionally been using Intel Classmates (in our case a German version called scieneo amplio) for the students. This is a brilliant system because ActivInspire runs perfectly on them and students have effectively each got their own mini-whiteboard, including well working stylus. The Classmates are networked to the ActivBoard using the Classroom Management software which is supplied with them. Using it, files can be sent back and forward and the students’ screens can be made visible on the ActivBoard in real time (screen mirroring). This way they can show other students how they do something, a geometrical construction for example. The other students can then perform the actions simultaneously on their Classmates. It is usual for students to be sent assignments which they can complete using any program before showing the others their results, which can easily be incorporated into the flipchart for that lesson. Equally, assessments are available.

    We have been watching the development of ClassFlow over the last three years and comparing it to our system. We consider our system to be very much better for the following reasons:

    ActivInspire is an absolutely brilliant software, in its capabilities way ahead of ClassFlow or ClassFlow Desktop even in their latest versions.

    The connectivity between students and teachers using Classroom Management in school and Moodle when students are at home or anywhere else in the world is also very much better than the possibilities allowed by ClassFlow. It is a huge advantage to be able to send files of all sorts and use any program.

    Our hope was that ActivInspire would be further developed and modified to include such connectivity as is given by Classroom Management. It would also be a great help if there were Android and iOS versions. Some of the few features which are actually better in ClassFlow (the container function is one example) could then be incorporated.

    That is a great hope for the future! But for the immediate future please reverse the decision to phase out ActivInspire! Please do not make resources which we have built up over many years suddenly completely useless! We hope that many other users of ActivInspire worldwide share our opinion and will press for the continuation of this really brilliant software!

  • WendyWendy Posts: 207 admin
    Mike Adams Member
    I can only echo the sentiments here.  The software end of your product is what sets you apart from the rest.  I love the functionality of Classflow with Activinspire..., when it works.  I teach in a computer lab (a seemingly optimal environment for Classflow) and during the first half of the year I was able to seamlessly integrate Classflow into my flipcharts using Classflow desktop.  However, the second half of the year my students have been unable to connect or respond about 80% of the time.  So much so that I spent money to acquire a competing product to mirror my computer that is reliable.  

    As a math teacher, I was under the impression that my equations wouldn't import into a Classflow file so I didn't even try.  Honestly, the couple of times I've imported flipcharts into the Classflow files the outcome has been less than stellar.  I've been a huge cheerleader for Activinspire with the teachers in my building.  It has completely transformed my teaching in the nearly 10 years that I've used it.  Earlier this year I tried to demonstrate Classflow for all our 1st year teachers in my room and again only a handful were able to access the content whether they were on our school network or not.

    As much as I hate to say it, I can't imagine how many teachers won't convert their files or how much assistance this might require of our IT dept.  Sure, it seems easy enough for us; but that's hardly the case for all.  I've been using Activinspire for 7 or 8 years across maybe a dozen different subjects.  Most of my files have annotations throughout that I clear each year as I use them again.  Some have embedded flash objects, animated gifs, and links to stored audio and video.  What's the chance that they'll transfer?  As you stated: "During this process we will identify the functionality which cannot be recreated and add it to our development plan according to the frequency in which it is encountered."  This seems to be a case of putting the cart before the horse to me.  

    For my part, I'll try to make the necessary adjustments but I'll definitely be researching my options outside of Classflow.    I really hope there is some way this decision will be reconsidered.
  • WendyWendy Posts: 207 admin
    John Rees Member

    I would like to thank Tony for his comments. I am sure that he and many others at Promethean are doing their best to resolve the situation. However his statements tend to suggest that the problems are almost solved. In my opinion they go so deep, that it would very much surprise me if most Flipcharts can be successfully converted to ClassFlow Desktop in the foreseeable future. For this reason I have decided to make a detailed list of the problems as I see them.

    As many of my colleagues may prefer to read my comments in German, I shall add a German version after this contribution.

    Problems with ClassFlow Desktop compared to ActivInspire – situation on 12.05.17 Basic systematic problems

    The division into "build" and "deliver" phases seems to make little sense and doesn't correspond to normal teaching practice. I don't understand the intended purpose of this division. In most IWB lessons there is a preparatory phase, then the actual lesson in school followed by a concluding phase in which homework or other further contributions from students are incorporated. The full range of possibilities of the software should exist in all three phases. That is not the case with ClassFlow Desktop. The simple solution as implemented in ActivInspire with a normal mode and a design mode makes much more sense.

    In the build phase new objects can be included and have properties assigned to them. However some of these properties (e.g. anchoring, container) are not functional at this stage. In the deliver phase, the properties are available but can no longer be changed. It’s very important to be able to change the colour of an object, for example. To do this you have to return to the build phase. In ActivInspire the colour of an arbitrary number of objects (including words) can be changed with just two clicks. In ClassFlow Desktop this is much more complex and time-consuming.

    Even the Toolbox is missing in the deliver phase. To add new objects, you have to go back to the build phase. Alternatively, you can get the Toolbox from the menu circle. If this Toolbox is closed without previously saving the changes, the new objects are lost. If you save the changes before closing the Toolbox you have to choose a new file name and even a new file path. This must be done every time you save changes!

    In contrast to that, in the build phase the option "save as" is only available when the file is closed. It is very important to be able to store different versions under different names.

    It is not possible to open two or more .cfl files at the same time. The possibility of being able to combine elements from various different files by copying from them is very important. Many users of ActivInspire work according to this principle: Collect items from different Flipcharts in one of them and save as a new file. This very effective way of working is not possible in ClassFlow Desktop.

    Copying elements from other sources such as a Flipchart or a Smart Notebook file into a .cfl file doesn't work reliably. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

    In ClassFlow Desktop it is not possible to set a user-defined page size. This is a very valuable feature of ActivInspire. Pages can be set to the exact proportions of DIN A4 for example, so that the page can be printed perfectly. I have found no way to print directly from the programme in ClassFlow Desktop. Even in the digital age, this is sometimes necessary.

    Different views (AI: 25 – 800%, optimal, fit width, fit height) of the pages are not available in ClassFlow Desktop. You can zoom in or zoom out, but then you may get just a partial view. Scroll bars are missing.

    In ActivInspire, there is very effective staged access to the properties of an object. Some properties such as the transparency of an object are available at just one click. If that is not sufficient, a small menu can be opened with another click. To delve deeper, there are the browsers which can be opened, again with just one click. After a little getting used to, the user finds this solution absolutely brilliant. It enables an in-depth overview and complete control. The corresponding solution in ClassFlow Desktop is much more complicated and in many cases less efficient. Try re-sorting a stack of objects! In ActivInspire no problem, in ClassFlow Desktop practically impossible! The division into build and deliver phases exacerbates this problem.

    In ActivInspire, the Toolbox can be customised, in ClassFlow Desktop that is not possible. It is a huge benefit that your personal profile (in AI) can be saved. No matter where you are, you can have your own personal settings. The ability to dock the Toolbox to the left or right of the screen (in ClassFlow Desktop not possible) is also very useful, especially as displays are getting ever wider but not higher. If the Toolbox in ActivInspire is a disturbance, it can be reduced.

    When taking a picture in ClassFlow Desktop, the image is automatically saved. You can’t choose to put the picture directly onto the page or put it on the clipboard. It is not possible to readjust the area which is to be photographed. If it is not as intended, you have to start from scratch. The collection of a series of frames is much easier in ActivInspire. 

    Missing tools in ClassFlow Desktop

    Many, but particularly important are: connectors, magic ink, raster design. 

    Missing object properties in ClassFlow Desktop

    Many, but particularly important are: restrictions of movement (horizontally, vertically, along a path), restrictions of rotation (centre of rotation, direction of rotation), the possibility of using an object as a switch for any action. Particularly this property is something that makes ActivInspire really interactive when compared with competing software. It should be definitely not abandoned. 

    Missing actions in ClassFlow Desktop

    Almost too long to write down! Interesting that here "Copy by dragging with the mouse" is considered to be an action! Number of clicks for this: AI 3, CFD 8 (10 if in the deliver phase)!

      


  • WendyWendy Posts: 207 admin
    < previous post continued>  

    John Rees Member

    Better than in ActivInspire

    Up to now I have only found three things: container function, video-, or audio-recording and a range of Activities. There are similar solutions for these three in Smart Notebook.

    Summary

    ClassFlow Desktop is intended to be attractive and intuitive for heterogeneous groups of users. Compared with ActivInspire, the opposite is the case.

    ActivInspire can be very effectively used after a very brief introduction. The programme is easily able to meet growing demands from the user which come with increasing experience. This statement would be even more applicable if support for and development of the programme were to be continued.

    Currently not even the simplest of Flipcharts can be successfully transformed into ClassFlow Desktop files. As most Flipcharts have properties that are not supported in ClassFlow Desktop, this is unlikely to change in the future.

    A big request addressed to the management of Promethean: Allow ActivInspire to continue side-by-side with ClassFlow and ClassFlow Desktop. In this way heterogeneous groups of users would be much better served. Users for whom ActivInspire is better suited would be able to continue to use it. They would have full access to the Flipcharts which they have built up over years. By using the ClassFlow button, they would also have the connectivity of ClassFlow and the possibility to use ClassFlow Activities. Continue to run full support for ActivInspire. The necessary programmers would probably already be available, because there would be no need for them to convert potentially thousands or even millions of Flipcharts into ClassFlow Desktop files.

    Don't allow ClassFlow Desktop to become Promethean’s Edsel!

  • WendyWendy Posts: 207 admin
    John Rees Member

    Thank you, Wendy for your comments on the possible copying of this thread into a new forum. I still think that this would be the best solution. If we each copy our own contributions, the result is likely to be incomplete and almost certainly fairly jumbled up! Newcomers to the forum, and I'm sure there will be many of them, would find it hard to get a complete picture. I don't consider notifications to be a real issue.

    Craig says that ClassFlow and ClassFlow Desktop are trying to serve a different purpose to ActivInspire. I would certainly agree with that, and it's a good thing. “One size fits all” is certainly not a motto which is appropriate to education or educational software. Promethean is in the enviable position of being able to offer a number of different “sizes”. With ActivInspire in the primary and secondary/tertiary versions, ClassFlow and ClassFlow Desktop many very different educational requirements can be served. I cannot imagine why Promethean now wants to reduce what is on offer, deleting the very possibilities which are best for very many educational purposes.

    As an example of the diverse possibilities of ActivInspire, here is a link to a YouTube publication by my colleague Jürgen Schnier, who uses the programme very effectively in his art teaching.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqgPF8g6wrM&feature=youtu.be

    This video shows a presentation which took place at a museum in Coblenz on the International Museum Day of 2017. The presentation uses basically very simple properties of ActivInspire which are not available in ClassFlow Desktop.

    We are all different, our students are all different, our schools are all different, our requirements and methods are all different. The thing that unites us is the wish to be able to use the possibilities which are best fitted to our own individual situations. Please continue to offer us this diversity, not just now but after June 2018!

  • sleifersleifer Posts: 1
    As a Tech Integrator in a K-4 school, I am seeing huge disappointment with the move away from ActiveInspire.  I have been tasked with the job of collecting all of the Flipcharts in our district and sending them to ClassFlow for conversion.  This is a huge headache.  It sounds like it should be a relatively easy process: save flipcharts into a OneDrive folder, share the link to the folder with Classflow, and within a month your charts will be converted.  My first charts went out on 5/18 and more have followed.  I am not receiving confirmation emails anymore that contain an ETA and when I emailed ClassFlow on 6/21 to check on the status of my first charts I was told they have not gotten to them yet because they have already received over 200,000 flipcharts and they were unsure of when they would be ready.  I am hugely concerned about how this is all going to unfold.
  • Thank you for your feedback about our conversion service, @sleifer.

    Our conversion team is working diligently to convert the flipcharts they receive as they are received and inspect each of the cards in the ClassFlow Desktop lessons created by that process.
  • jorejore Posts: 7

    Thank you very much Wendy for creating this discussion and migrating the contributions to this forum! Thank you too phenrotay for the link to the parallel discussion!

    The information given by sleifer is very interesting. The number 200,000 sounds huge, but it can only be the tip of the iceberg. Flipcharts have to be sent in batches of at least 50 (maximum 10,000), so that means 4000 batches at most. As some people have sent in larger batches or more than one batch, the number of people taking part is obviously below 4000 until now. That is a very small number compared to the number of users of ActivInspire worldwide. The team at Promethean have got an almighty task in front of them!

    I know I'm repeating myself, but all of this (in my opinion unnecessary) work could be avoided quite simply! Please just continue to offer ActivInspire as an alternative to ClassFlow and use some of the saved resources in developing it further! ActivInspire and ClassFlow Desktop are not competitors as they serve different educational situations and styles of teaching.




  • We appreciate your feedback regarding this issue, @jore.

    Even after the removal of its download link from our support page and the cessation of updates and support for the software, the ActivInspire software can continue to be used so long as the operating system in place on the computer on which it is installed is supported by the ActivInspire software.

  • jorejore Posts: 7

    Thank you for your comments, Jarrad. What I am really concerned about is what happens after the cessation of support in June of 2018. No support presumably means that it will not be possible to activate a new installation of ActivInspire. Is that correct? If so, that would be a huge disadvantage for present and potential new users of ActivInspire.

    The demise of ActivInspire would have many negative consequences, both for users and for Promethean. Some of these have been described in this conversation. What I have not found, here or anywhere else, is what possible benefit the discontinuation of ActivInspire can bring to anybody. I can't think of one myself.

    Would you please explain what Promethean hopes to achieve by discontinuing ActivInspire, rather than allowing it to continue as an alternative to or in combination with ClassFlow?

    Best wishes, John





  • Hi jore

    Thank you for your feedback. I can answer the first section of your post. If users have got the installation files for ActivInspire and a valid activation number (license key), then they will still be able to install and use Activnspire, in exactly the same way that ActivStudio and ActivPrimary users can install and use these programs today. The support ending, is Promethean saying that we will not accept support calls into the contact centre, nor will we be looking at feature requests, bug fixes, or looking at implementing or testing new operating system support.
    In regards to your other feedback, I will pass this into the business for your valued feedback to be passed to the development and product teams.

    Kind regards,
    Adam
    Promethean Technical Support
  • jorejore Posts: 7

    Hi Adam,

    Thank you very much for the immediate answer to my first question, and for passing on the second one. I’m very pleased that my assumption concerning the activation of ActivInspire was incorrect!

    Best wishes, John





  • jjmitchelljjmitchell Posts: 1
    edited on July 5 2017

    Thanks very much for the detailed comments on here about the functionality (or lack of) of Classflow. I am a teacher responsible for IT purchasing at a large primary school in Bournemouth, UK. We began our transition from Smart boards to Promethean ActivPanels a couple of years ago and the appeal was largely due to the functionality and subscription-free nature of the Activinspire software. We have just purchased a further 7 boards, not realising that Activinspire was due to be phased out but, nevertheless, we assumed that Classflow would be an upgrade which would contain all of the functionality of Activinspire and more.

    For the past month, our staff have persevered with Classflow but most are massively frustrated by its lack of even basic functionality. The desktop software is horrific and even its installation on a network where teachers log into multiple machines has been a nightmare. We have been advised by Promethean that the online version is better and avoids such issues, so many have tried using that. Even so, basic things seem to be missing... largely the stuff that everyone likes about the SMART software. Notably (unless we’re all using it incorrectly)…

    ·         The apparent lack of ability to have multiple documents open at the same time: Teachers often like to have all the resources open for their morning’s lessons so that they can transition smoothly from one to another.

    ·         Organising files: What’s the best way for four teachers, using the same ‘base’ file, to be able to load it, change it and save it in an organised manner. At the moment, teachers create Smart notebooks and save them on the school system in a logical filing system of folders. Is this available in the online version so everyone who needs to can easily find and share stuff?

    ·         Dragging items without box: A key part of IWB teaching, particularly in Early Years, is the ability for a child to come up to the board and drag an object from one place to another. Eg, a number into the correct place on a numberline. We seem to be able to do this in ‘deliver’ mode when using the pen but all objects have a box around them, which can look ugly.

    ·         Why are there ‘create’ and ‘deliver’ modes? For the sake of a bit of extra screen space, there seems to be a lack of the ability to easily drag objects around in the former and the lack of the ability to add or edit anything in the latter.

    ·         There’s the ability to write on slides but annotations can’t be moved around. Sometimes this is really useful – For example, collecting words and ideas then moving them into separate areas of the screen to group similar ones afterwards.

    ·         Can’t click and type or drag to change text size: In Smart software, you just have to click and type. To make the text bigger, the corner of the text box resizes the text which is nice and quick. In Classflow, it seems you have to click to make a text box, add text, highlight and select a numerical size from a dropdown. I know this is how word processors work but this software is meant to be easy and intuitive to use with a pen on a board.

    ·         Hard to find files which have been created: We’ve found that some files which have been stored online have simply vanished from resources. Do files auto-save or not? Nobody can find a save button if not!

    It may be that we’re just experiencing teething problems but, in all honesty, Classflow just doesn’t seem to do what we want very well. We’re not that bothered about sharing whole, interactive activities with kids using iPads. If we wanted to do that there wouldn’t really be much need for an interactive board at all – a telly or projector would do. We want humans to be able to touch the thing and manipulate objects on it with ease. This what Smart Notebook and ActiveInspire do well. As we’re continuing to invest a huge amount in Promethean products, the cessation of development of ActiveInspire and lack of functionality of Classflow is a huge worry.

    Any help or suggestions gratefully received.

  • Hi jjmitchell,

    Thanks for your post.  Please rest assured that we will be passing all of your comments on to the development team and they will all be added to the relevant enhancement requests.  We are constantly adding functionality to both ClassFlow and ClassFlow desktop and the aim is for it to surpass ActivInspire.

    You mention that you have issues with different teachers starting with the same base files and struggling to save other versions?  We would strongly advise that every teacher using ClassFlow does so with their OWN teacher account.  Any attempts to share accounts can often lead to conflicts and possible loss of data due to the same file overwriting from different locations.  We would advise that if you are wanting to work off a "base" lesson then you could download or share this file with other users then they could save their own version.  This keeps every teachers lessons separate and you can share online or download and transfer that way between users.

    The "Create" and "Deliver" modes have been present since ActivInspire albeit with different names (Design mode and Presentation mode).  This is so that any student cannot irrevocably change a lesson as these do auto-save as they are being worked on.

    Please feel free to add any further suggestions as we review all of these and will incorporate as many as possible.

    Kind Regards,
    Paul

    Promethean Technical Support
  • jorejore Posts: 7

    I agree with everything that jjmitchel has written. In my opinion, one of the big problems with ClassFlow Desktop is the division into “Create” and “Deliver” modes. I still haven't understood what the purpose is.

    I am very puzzled by Paul's statement that the Create and Deliver modes have been present since ActivInspire, albeit with different names (Design mode and Presentation mode). Obviously there are two modes in ClassFlow Desktop and two modes in ActivInspire. However, that is where the similarity ends! The two modes in ClassFlow Desktop are certainly not equivalent to the Design and Normal (I prefer this description rather than Presentation) modes in ActivInspire. Many users probably don't know that there is a Design mode; you can do almost everything without it. If needed, for example to move an anchored object, it is very easy to use. Most importantly you can change from one mode to the other during a lesson in an instant without altering the appearance of the page or disrupting the flow of the lesson.

    In most cases the construction of a Flipchart is done in the normal mode, which is also used in class. The real design tools, available in both modes, are the browsers, particularly the Object-, Property- and Action-Browsers. These browsers are one of the features which put ActivInspire into a completely different league from competing products. Leaving them out automatically makes ClassFlow Desktop very inferior. The aim “to surpass ActivInspire” is impossible without these features!

    With ClassFlow Desktop you can only add objects or change the properties of existing objects in the Create mode. Some of these properties, for example restrictions on movement or container function, are only actually present in the Deliver mode. Equally the appearance in a classroom situation is only acceptable in the Deliver mode. This means that for any lesson which is more than a basic presentation, you have to keep on changing from one mode to the other during the lesson. You can’t even change the colour of an object in the Deliver mode! In spite of being called ClassFlow, this very definitely does disrupt the flow of the lesson and leads to confusion.

    Another thing which puzzles me is that there is still no answer to my question about why Promethean wants to discontinue ActivInspire instead of allowing it to continue alongside ClassFlow.

    ActivInspire is not any old software! It must be considered to be the absolute benchmark for IWB-software and is certainly the most convincing reason for choosing Promethean rather than one of the competitors. For most teachers the software is much more important than the hardware. As long as the hardware works reliably, it doesn't matter what name is on it. If you can’t get on with the software, you will look somewhere else. In spite of that Promethean wants to discontinue ActivInspire, obviously a high-risk decision. A move of this sort must have been well thought out and communicated to the whole of the Promethean team, particularly to those who have contact with users, who are also the customers. So I would expect anybody in the development or product teams to be immediately able to give a good and presumably convincing answer to this question. All of this makes me wonder why I still can't find an answer in this conversation or anywhere else!

    Best wishes to everyone involved, John





  • Hi jore,

    Many thanks your feedback, which is much appreciated; please be assured that we are passing all comments from this thread on to the relevant teams within Promethean. 

    ActivInspire was originally developed around 8 years ago and was fundamentally different to its predecessors ActivStudio and ActivPrimary. The intention for ActivInspire at the time was to provide teachers with a lesson delivery tool for the modern classroom. Since it was developed, many things have changed both in software development and of course in lesson delivery. The move to Classflow and Classflow Desktop is to utilise the most up to date software development techniques to provide teachers and their students with a lesson delivery platform for today's classroom - some of which simply cannot be done with the development framework ActivInspire was built on. It is worth emphasizing, that ActivInspire should continue to work in the same way as it does today, long after Support has officially ended, very much in the same way that ActivStudio and ActivPrimary continue to function in the main on today's operating systems.

    One thing that we maybe haven't been clear on is that we do not see Classflow Desktop on its own as a direct replacement for ActivInspire. Whilst Classflow Desktop will allow teachers to create and deliver their lessons in the traditional sense, we see it more of a tool to be used in conjunction with Classflow.com, in instances where an internet connection is not reliable or possible. Based on the input of many current ActivInspire users and other educators, ClassFlow (and Classflow Desktop) have been developed to include the most important longstanding interactive software features as well as a wealth of new features designed for modern learning environments. 

    On your other point regarding the different modes in Classflow, this is great feedback and our developers are looking at making some changes in an upcoming release (scheduled later this quarter) - most notably by adding different tools and updating the layout and design of the different modes to provide a cleaner, more seamless look and feel.

    Also on your point about the browsers - again, this is fantastic feedback and as Classflow and Classflow Desktop evolve we will be constantly looking to add such functionality to our development plan.

    Thank you once more for your feedback and I hope that this goes some way to address some of your questions and concerns.

    Thank you, 

    Promethean Support. 
  • JulesJules Posts: 4
    I'd like to add my voice to all the others on here to show my disappointment with Classflow Desktop.  Many things have been noted on here already, so no need to go over them again.  I'll just say that the most jarring shortcomings to me seem to be the inability to open several lessons at the same time, the inability to show your lesson in full screen, and the complete pointlessness of Deliver mode.

    I'm very interested in the comments above from @Craig Promethean which say "The move to Classflow and Classflow Desktop is to utilise the most up to date software development techniques to provide teachers and their students with a lesson delivery platform for today's classroom "  Is this referring to increased connectivity with students' own devices in the classroom?  Is this the main USP of Classflow?  If so, please could you elaborate, as this is something I'd like to learn more about.  

    Also, the point from Craig about CFD not being a direct replacement for AI is interesting, as it then goes on to say that CFD can be a back-up for classflow.com if there is no internet access.  Where then, does AI fit into the picture, particularly if we're being told about it being phased out?
  • Hi Jules, 

    Thank you for your feedback. We will be sure to pass the concerns you have listed along to the appropriate teams within Promethean for review. 

    ClassFlow and Classflow Desktop is primarily used as a lesson delivery software for classrooms where students bring and use their own devices in the classroom. The software allows to send cards and lessons to students on their own devices, which is the direction that educational technology is heading. For more information on what ClassFlow and ClassFlow Desktop has to offer, please feel free to browse the ClassFlow website, https://classflow.com/. Creating an account is free. The website has many videos on what the software offers. 

    ClassFlow Desktop is not a direct replacement for AI, as in, the two softwares have similar features, but all of the features in AI will not be moved over to ClassFlow Desktop. AI is not going away. The software will still be able to be used even though ClassFlow Desktop is becoming more popular. 

    The link below is a link to the timeline of AI to ClassFlow Desktop. 

    https://support.prometheanworld.com/article/?kb=1616

    If you have anymore questions, please let us know. 

    Thanks, 
    James
    Promethean Technical Support
  • jorejore Posts: 7

    Hello Craig,

    Thank you for your quick reply to my last post. I find it very encouraging that you all obviously take our comments very seriously. You encourage us to keep up the feedback, so I shall do that!

    Unfortunately I don't really feel that you have answered the question I put. You have very carefully explained what Promethean expects to achieve with ClassFlow and ClassFlow Desktop. What you have not said is what Promethean expects to achieve by not continuing full support and development for ActivInspire. To put it another way; what does Promethean fear to lose by continuing support for ActivInspire? You say that ClassFlow Desktop should not be seen as a direct replacement for ActivInspire and I would certainly agree with that. I see room for ClassFlow, ClassFlow Desktop and ActivInspire to coexist and supplement each other. As I have said before, the resources saved by not having to convert millions of Flipcharts to ClassFlow Desktop files could be put into the very necessary development of ClassFlow and a moderate further development of ActivInspire. You and others have said that it will be possible to continue using ActivInspire after support is withdrawn. That is a poor solution compared to having the confidence of continued support and updates. It has been said that we can “use ActivInspire as long as we want to” and that “ActivInspire is not going away”. These statements are in conflict with the timeline on the ClassFlow website.

    You also say that lesson delivery has changed since the conception of ActivInspire. The problem there is that there is no one absolutely correct method of “lesson delivery”. The best method depends on all sorts of factors and has to be chosen to fit the circumstances. It is also true that what might be normal practice in one part of the world might not be fitting somewhere else! I can only speak for secondary schools in Germany, but to “create” a finished lesson which is then “delivered” to the students is generally not acceptable. It is most important that the lessons are as student-orientated as possible. Lessons in which there is a lot of self-determined input from the students help to achieve this aim. This sort of lesson evolves much more effectively with ActivInspire than it can possibly do with ClassFlow Desktop.

    Our system, which has been in use for the last six years, combines ActivInspire on the whiteboard with ActivInspire on student devices (Intel Classmates), networked using Classroom Management. (For a more detailed description, please see the second contribution to this thread, which was carried over from a previous forum.) Using our local WiFi (or Moodle when the students are not in school) this system is very stable. The possibilities offered by ClassFlow are very limited in comparison. Students very much enjoy using ActivInspire, not least because they have got exactly the same software as the teacher. In our experience students take the opportunity of using the ingenious interactive properties of ActivInspire to become very creative! We consider this system to be modern and flexible. We couldn't simply replace ActivInspire with ClassFlow Desktop on the students’ devices. It is comparatively unsuitable and doesn’t even run on a Classmate, needing 3GB of RAM while the Classmates have only 2GB!

    I’m not an IT-specialist and therefore cannot comment on up to date software development. I would however expect more up to date software to perform better than older versions on today’s prevalent operating system, Windows 10. That was not my impression of ClassFlow Desktop so I decided to try to quantify it with a small test. In conceiving this test I was partly influenced by jjmitchel’s comments concerning the change from Smart and the wish to have several active files open simultaneously. To make this post rather shorter, I shall add this as an attachment. The result in a nutshell: The slow one is not the old one!

    Nothing lasts forever and that will be the case for ActivInspire. In my opinion any replacement must at least fulfil the following criteria:

    1. The new software must be able to do everything that ActivInspire can, at least as well.

    2. The performance of the software must be at least as good and as fast as that of ActivInspire.

    3. It must be possible to completely and effectively convert all existing Flipcharts into the new format. Criterion 1 is a precondition for this.

    4. The new software should offer some advantages over ActivInspire.

    ClassFlow Desktop does not fulfil the first three criteria, the fourth one only marginally. For this reason I think that Promethean should abandon a fixed timescale, keeping ActivInspire as a full member of the Promethean family as long as it is necessary.





  • Good morning jore

    Firstly, thank you for taking the time to write your thoughts and feedback on this matter, I know that will have taken some time and for which we do appreciate the large amount of effort that has been put into your post and testing the differences between ActivInspire and ClassFlow Desktop (along with the Smart Notebook software) on your attached file.

    To help clarify the reason behind not continuing ActivInspire development, this is purely because of the framework that ActivInspire has been built upon which is now outdated. 
    ClassFlow and ClassFlow Desktop has been developed on the latest technologies available which will enable us moving forward to push and innovate further for classroom software and innovation.

    I will be glad to pass all of this feedback across to the development teams. 

    Thank you once again for all of your efforts.

    Kind regards,
    Adam
    Promethean Technical Support
  • JulesJules Posts: 4
    Excellent points in your post and in your attachment, @jore, I totally agree that life would be easier for all of us if support for ActivInspire remained, alongside a push to promote Classflow as a supplement, but not an alternative.  For me the reason why the whole decision seems very strange is that schools and educators around the world will feel forced into a corner by having to make major operational overhauls.  This could be in terms of the hardware, as the above post describes regarding being unable to run CFD on the Intel Classmate, or in terms of schools re-writing their policies on how students use their own devices in class, or it could be a case of schools having to reassess what they are asking of their teachers.  Now of course, none of these things on their own are insurmountable obstacles.  I expect that most of us on this board are involved in ed-tech and often have to train students and colleagues through times of change.  Nothing wrong with that, but it just seems odd to me that it is Promethean making these decisions for us and forcing our hands.  If we could have the confidence of knowing that we could still use ActivInspire as the foundation for the delivery of the majority of our lessons, while also integrating Classflow, then I don't think there would be many complaints on here.  Instead, we've arrived at a situation where, rightly or wrongly, many people have interpreted a message of "stop using AI, start using CF Desktop immediately", and then looked at the two of them and found CFD to be a poor alternative.

    To give an example of what I mean by using ActivInspire as a foundation:  I work in a language school that has both long-term and short-term students.  Generally, students enrol for a couple of months.  There are plenty of classes, and numerous teachers teaching the same syllabus.  This means there is lots of repetition of lessons.  Teachers look at the syllabus, find the relevant folder on our shared network, and open the AI flipchart, which they can then adapt however they wish, and save a new copy.  All teachers are working from the same shared drive on our network, so all teachers' lessons are visible and available to all staff.  My concerns are that to make these flipcharts more suitable to Classflow, taking full advantage of the enhanced interactive features, will take considerable redesign, and secondly that if teachers move a lot of their planning online, through their own account on Classflow.com, then we might not so easily be able to share our resources.

    As a caveat, let me point out that I am aware that updating our flipcharts is no bad thing, and may lead to an improved experience for our students, and also that I am yet to fully explore Classflow.com and find out how multiple teacher accounts are managed across schools.  The point is that there may well be a lot of schools that are not in the best position to manage these changes, and will feel undue pressure to do so through something that was not their decision.
  • slc334slc334 Posts: 1
    Hi, I work at the largest Primary in Bournemouth, like Jon. I am trying to get used to Classflow, but struggling with lots of basic things i would expect to be able to do. 
    Let me set the scene- I get into class in the morning and open 8 Smart Notebooks for the day- 1 with class groupings, 1 phonics lesson, 2 for English input, 1 maths input, 1 topic input, 1 for handwriting and another for mental maths. I open all these and have them them minimised at the bottom of my desktop. When i need them i have them open and ready to go. Also these folders are all used by the 3 other teachers in my year group, so they would need to be able to find them and get them open at the start of the day. How on earth do we do this with Classflow? I cannot see how I save lessons to our server, so everyone can find them quickly. We have folder after folder after folder where all our current smart notebooks are saved. For example if i wanted to find a phonics lesson i would go to resources-phonics-201617-summer-july and then be able to find that days smart notebook. This doesn't seem to be possibly with classflow. I do not want to have to search using key words for a lesson. Also we re-use lessons, with a little tweaking, so I would want to be able to see what was done in previous years. If it is going to work for us i need to be able to save lessons easily. 

    Another problem is that if i have made a lesson, i go into deliver, i want to then edit it again, so i exit, but i come right out of it. the user friendliness of classflow is non existent. Where are the microsoft elements that EVERYONE knows- where is the straightforward save button, cut and paste button etc. the difference between edit lesson and deliver mode is VERY annoying.

    I am quite computer savvy, but this is stumping me. I am trying to understand it, so i can pass on my knowledge to my year team, but its so unfriendly to use that I dont have much knowlegde to pass on, other than- dont like it! 

    Sorry for ranting, but we are being asked to use class flow and it isnt working for me. I am dreading September. 
    help 

    Sarah 


  • jorejore Posts: 7

    Hi,

    Many thanks Adam for your quick response to my post. I still find it very strange that “outdated” ActivInspire does almost everything so much better than ClassFlow Desktop “using the latest technologies available”!

    I am most impressed by Jules’ and Sarah's very detailed descriptions of the problems which there are encountering. It is very interesting that the three of us are involved in very different teaching situations but have all got similar problems. These problems would be alleviated by continuing to have the choice between ActivInspire and ClassFlow Desktop for the foreseeable future.

    In our school we would not even consider changing to ClassFlow Desktop at the moment. We have even got special licences for ActivInspire on the few whiteboards which are not from Promethean in order to avoid having to use other software. The transition from Smart, which happened several years ago, was no problem at all. Smart Notebook files can usually be effectively converted into Flipcharts.

    To clarify what I mean by “moderate further development of ActivInspire”: I do not expect elements which only work on a different platform to be incorporated. What is needed is basically fixing a few bugs, such as the instability of the container function. Updates concerning safety issues should of course be continued.

    A guarantee that support for ActivInspire on this basis will continue after June of 2018 would be a great help for very many people!





  • Thank you for your feedback on this matter, @slc334.  We appreciate everyone's concerns regarding this transition and continue to direct them to the appropriate teams here as we receive them.

    Our support team can be contacted through phone or e-mail using the information on this page from Promethean Support for assistance with errors, bugs, or other issues occurring with the ClassFlow Desktop software and with advice on how to use features of the software involved with the creation, editing, or saving and uploading of ClassFlow lessons.



  • jorejore Posts: 7

    Hi everybody,

    Sarah and Jon have given very detailed descriptions of their severe problems with ClassFlow Desktop. They have clearly shown how critical the situation is and asked for help. I don't read that as meaning technical help for particular features of ClassFlow Desktop; what is needed is help in dealing with the general inadequacies of the software. I don't consider a link to Promethean support to be real help in these circumstances. Nobody can be expected to spend their summer wrestling with completely illogical software and then trying to communicate what they have found to their colleagues. No software should cause dread of the new school year!

    Could it be that the only really appropriate advice is something which cannot be expected from a Promethean representative? As I see it, the best possible course of action for all users of ActivInspire, no matter whether they have been using it for weeks or years, is to ignore the advice to migrate to ClassFlow Desktop and carry on using ActivInspire for at least another year, probably more.

    Of course this could be just postponing the agony! But at least in the meantime users would have software which they can understand and actually works, files which also work, the ability to save and find files when, where and under what name they want, not produce files when they don't want to do that, have nothing to do with “create” and “deliver” modes and enjoy the many features of ActivInspire which you won't find anywhere else. In short they could simply get on with their jobs and not waste energy on irrelevancies!

    The other reason for waiting is that the agony is bound to be alleviated! There is enough evidence in the contributions to this forum to show that ClassFlow Desktop in its present form is completely untenable. Things will have to change. Unfortunately it will really need a major overhaul; a small facelift will bring no improvement. All of the illogical, counterintuitive and frustrating features of ClassFlow Desktop will have to go. The effectiveness, interactivity and ease-of-use of ActivInspire will have to be incorporated. Obviously this is something which won't happen overnight, but it must be possible. Promethean has generally got a very good track record for getting things right, even if they have got it completely wrong this time. I always thought that if any company understood teachers’ needs, it was Promethean. I would very much like my confidence to be restored!

    I think it would be very prudent for Promethean to openly admit that things have gone wrong. The new message should be that a completely new version of ClassFlow Desktop is on the way and users should please stay with ActivInspire until it is introduced. The new ClassFlow Desktop will have ALL of the functionality and ease of use of ActivInspire BEFORE it is introduced to the general public. Of course, this promise would have to be delivered!

    The good thing is that probably the vast majority of ActivInspire users have still never heard of ClassFlow Desktop or don't know what it is! They would then not have to experience the problems which the writers in this forum have had. Most of them have probably got less computer and IWB-experience than the contributors to this forum. An unchanged ClassFlow Desktop would put them completely out of their depth, cause great uncertainty and resentment.

    Promethean representatives always emphasise that our comments are passed on to the appropriate teams, so I'm sure that will also happen with this post. Appropriate would be all teams including the decision-makers at the top of the company. I know that to decide as I have suggested would not be easy. You must have a much better understanding of decision-making than I do, but in my opinion to leave things as they are, or only make cosmetic changes, would be absolutely disastrous for Promethean and therefore for the users. Nobody wants that!

    My best wishes to everybody

    John





  • Hi jore,

    Thank you for your reply post and taking the time and effort to voice your concerns over the transition from ActivInspire to ClassFlow, along with ClassFlow Desktop.

    Rest assured we are passing your feedback and concerns on to the departments here as and when we are receiving them. 

    Thank you,
    Adam
    Promethean Technical Support


  • JulesJules Posts: 4
    Hi all, since posting last week about Classflow Desktop, I have spent a bit more time using classflow.com instead, and I have to say it looks considerably more useful than CFD.  At the moment, I have to say that I can't actually see the point of using CFD at all, especially with its cumbersome create and deliver modes, and the annoying waste of space on almost half of the screen.

    The question now is, what's the best way to go about getting support for using Clasflow.  Is this still the relevant forum?  Classflow.com has a support section, but no public forum like this, that I could find.  One issue that I found regarding the support is that live responses are available Monday - Friday, office hours in the US.  My school is in East-Asia, and is open 7 days a week, so getting immediate responses is difficult.  Are responses on this board available at different times?

    Anyway, this is the message that I submitted to Classflow support via Classflow.com.  I thought it would be interesting to share here in case anyone from Promethean would be able to assist with the questions, and also in case any other teachers here have been experimenting with Classflow.com and would also like to comment.  Opinion on this board seems to be unanimously negative towards Classflow Desktop, so I'd be interested to hear if anyone thinks that the browser version might be an improvement?

    Message below:

    "Hi, I am testing both classflow.com and Classflow Desktop for the first time, as we have been using ActivInspire for many years and have been informed of the need to start migrating to Classflow as support for ActivInspire is being discontinued.

    My first impression of Classflow Desktop is that it is simply not fit for purpose and we will avoid using it until it has been updated considerably.

    I am more interested in classflow.com as the lesson delivery seems more user-friendly, and the ability to send cards to student devices is a significant benefit.  I have been testing this, but have not had much success.

    For example, when making a card with an open question for students to write free responses, I was not able to actually type any text on the student device.  Clicking on the page to add text simply didn't work.  This was on some of our newer class iPads.  On the older models of iPad, the page didn't load at all.

    For reasons like this, I am not comfortable asking students to access classflow.com/student via their browser.  I have been looking for information about an app they can use instead, but I can't find anything on your website or on the app store, but lots of older online discussions refer to a classroom student app.  Is this not available?

    The other question I would like to ask at the moment is what sort of solution you offer for schools to network all of their teacher accounts, so that lessons can be stored by all teachers who teach the same levels, and that all lesson materials can be accessible to all teachers and managers in our school.  Currently, all our lessons are designed in ActivInspire, and stored on a shared drive, in folders divided by class level.  Each teacher also has a folder on the shared drive to store their customised versions of lessons.  Of course, it's not just AI flipcharts that are stored here, but also supplementary handouts, audio files etc.  How can this be replicated in classflow?

    Many thanks for your help, I anticipate that I may have many more questions as I continue to test the software.  I have, of course, watched many of your tutorial videos but, to be honest, I don't find them very useful as they are all only about one minute long, and are so high level and generic, that they don't really provide useful training, and they don't show Classflow actually being used by students.  I'd appreciate it if you could pass this feedback to the relevant department."

  • Hi Jules,

    Thank you for your post.

    We do have a dedicated channel for ClassFlow support who can help to answer your questions via the chat on ClassFlow.com and by email. 
    I can see that you have emailed them also (along with Promethean Technical Support). 
    I shall let them help answer your questions regarding ClassFlow.com on the case that you have raised with them. 

    As for the ClassFlow Desktop application, we are sorry to hear that you aren't enjoying this experience when using it as compared to the ClassFlow.com website.
    We are openly looking at getting feedback from our customers to enhance ClassFlow Desktop. If you do wish to provide your feedback on what you would like to see improved we will happily pass these on to the development team to review and hopefully implement for future releases. I'll respond to your email to the Promethean Technical Support that you have contacted us from for further information.

    Again, thank you for taking the time and effort to pass your concerns on. Rest assured that these are all being feedback to the relevant internal teams.

    Kind regards,
    Adam
    Promethean Technical Support

  • JulesJules Posts: 4
    Hi Adam, thanks for your reply, I have received a prompt reply from the Classflow support team as well.  Regarding feedback about CFD, it's already been posted on this thread many times, by me and everyone else.  As a summary, I'll just repeat what I wrote in an earlier post:   I'll just say that the most jarring shortcomings to me seem to be the inability to open several lessons at the same time, the inability to show your lesson in full screen, and the complete pointlessness of Deliver mode.

    The feedback I received from Classflow about networking and sharing lessons so teaching and management colleagues was that most schools use Google Drive or similar cloud storage.  Does anyone on here have experience of running a school network in this way?  Would love to hear how it's working out.
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