Clicker software review Flow

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Flow is an audience response software developed by eInstruction, now part of Turning technologies. Among other things it allows for participation / voting using clickers that are linked to the presenter via wireless communication.

Contents

What would make Flow better?

  • integration into presentation software
    • This was possible for both Mac and PC with Response but this feature has disappeared, rendering Flow much less useful than Response. Apparently, it does work for Flow on PCs.
  • enable import from various different formats
    • Flow does not even import from its direct predecessor
    • It should also be able to do this from other makers of question software.
  • faster workflow
    • It still quite cumbersome to make questions on Flow, although much better than using Response. It should be possible to duplicate questions. This would save time if, for example, you want to create 10 questions with 5 options and similar text.
    • Users should be able to define presets e.g. with a different question time. Currently this has to be adjusted for every question.
    • Setting up the content should be possible by clicking the content window not just the small "set up content" button.
    • It should be possible under lesson properties to predefine whether the lesson should be started in presentation mode (all questions available).
    • Session results should be automatically saved by date with the lesson name in a single file.
  • handling during the session
    • The Flow window cannot be moved to a second screen which would be very useful during a seminar to show the question.
    • There's not immediate summary feedback after the answers are in. A missing feature to give the audience an immediate overview and discuss incorrect answers.
    • The warning after a question time has elapsed is misleading. "End polling" could mean end the entire poll. It should read something like "end the question".
  • visual representation / results analysis
    • Bar charts are mediocre, pie charts are even worse. Dot plots would be much better (http://bit.ly/1OonfiL).
    • The number of participants who replied should be given as integer. Currently, we have 0.5, 1.5,.. participants.
    • When multiple choice is with numbers the summary should include an average.
    • For multiple choice whether with letters or with numbers the mode (most frequently chosen value) should be given both in the immediate summary as well as in the session results / export.
  • answer summary / export
    • The Excel import should summarize questions in addition to students on the 1st summary sheet.
    • Numbers are stored as text in the Excel file and cannot be useful for calculations w/o prior reformatting.
    • Saving session data by exporting is not recognized. The software still claims that data will be lost.

Flow 2.0.2.217 & Lesson Builder 1.0

The main problem: Still no embedding questions into Powerpoint on Mac - by far the easiest way to ask questions while presenting. It works only for PCs. That's a huge disadvantage.

Persisting problems Flow

  • Flow window still cannot be moved to 2nd screen.
  • Flow startup still slower than considerably bigger software but not a major drawback.

Persisting problems Lesson Builder

  • There seems to be no way to import Response questions (predecessor software, no longer maintained) to Flow.
  • All other points regarding Lesson Builder persist, incl. presets, keyboard shortcuts,.. but are not limiting the use of the software. They would merely make work with Flow more efficient.

Flow v2.0.1.6 and Lesson Builder on 10.10

I upgraded to 10.10 and continued testing in early 2015 despite the stated incompatibility of the Device Manager (not Flow) with OSX 10.10. So far the radio receiver works just fine but many other things give me trouble.

Lesson Builder

  • questions cannot be duplicated for the quick addition of similar questions
  • not enough presets to quickly generate the right questions (e.g. no timer)
  • keyboard shortcuts don't work (Cmd+S, Cmd+X,..)
  • In the content editor, return sends cursor to beginning of the same line not into the next as expected.
  • New questions created are hidden if there are already enough to fill the list. They should be automatically selected.
  • It would be handy and faster to also be able to enter the content viewer panel by clicking on it. It currently is only accessible through a small button at the bottom of the window.
  • Content windows is always in the foreground. It should behave like all other windows and move to the background if one switches to another application.

Flow

  • Window cannot be moved to 2nd screen since probably because it's not natively programmed. That makes displaying the question to the audience using a projector impossible.
  • still cannot add a questions directly to a Powerpoint slide which would be the easiest way to present clicker questions to an audience during a lecture
  • Flow and especially the Device manager are slow to start. It takes longer to launch Flow than it does a signifanctly bigger software like Photoshop. Occasionally, clickers and the receiver don't correctly connect, esp. if they have been running for a while. Clickers can be switched on but the answers are not received or the answer format does not correspond to the question. I would recommend a complete restart of the quiz and receiver software before you give a clicker class.
  • Flow should have an option to display the question type and the answer. As the presenter, I can only see that in the lesson editor but not when I'm giving a quiz. Especially for informative questions, it's crucial to know the question type.

Data export

Quiz data can be exported in various format. Excel seemed to me the most useful. It contains both a summary of all questions and data for each questions individually. Generally, very well formatted, a few things should be changed and added. The Detailed grades and Detailed answers tabs should include the question type (multiple choice, numeric, short text,..) and question title above the data columns. Informative questions are always graded as zero and highlighted as false. They should just be blank. Numbers are formatted as text, a common problem with exports to excel.

Company impression

The team is very responsive. I often got a reply with useful suggestions within a day or two. Updates are reasonably fast. However, the newly fused company (Turning + eInstruction) runs many software projects in parallel and some like Response appear to no longer be actively developed. Only time will tell, whether Flow is reliable long-term.

1st impressions of v2.0.1.6 on OSX 10.9

I started testing in Oct 2014 on an MacBook Pro Retina running OS X.10 (Yosemite). It turns out the software does not yet run on 10.10. So I continued testing on an older MacBook Pro running 10.9.

Installation

  • Installation requires restart. What? The only one doing this for ages.
  • The installation is too cluttered. All files should go into 1 package like with a single settings folder in Application support:
    • Applications/Turning Technologies/Flow: 2 applications: Flow v2.0.1.6, LessonBuilder v1.0
    • ~/Documents/Flow questions
    • ~/Library/Application Support/Flow 2
    • home folder/DeviceManagerState.properties (settings file, regenerated every time you start the Device Manager; This really shouldn't go into users' home folders!)

Results

  • no Powerpoint plugin for Mac
  • Flow is prone to freezing
  • cannot detect CPS Pulse clickers using Flow / Detect devices

Version history

  • v2.0 2014 May [1]
  • v1.7 2014 Jan [2]

See also

Personal tools