What Is It?

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Being the digital age, we have access to lots of information, much more than what we can handle. Given that our students grew up in this age, teachers often assume that they are capable of identifying critical resources to help with their research and learning. The fact is that most students need to be guided and taught to find, sort and evaluate sources of information as opposed to letting them loose in the vast electronic ether! In other words they need to be taught information literacy to enhance their research skills.

A daunting task for an instructor in this regard is in combining and sharing multiple pieces of online information into a coherent self-contained document. It is hard and time consuming for instance to combine videos from YouTube, articles from Wikipedia, Journal articles and pictures on the web. One could resort to creating a long Word or pdf document or make a web page with all the information you need. Both these ideas are terrible for students as they would eventually lose context and have difficulty maintaining continuity of thought while visiting these extraneous sources of information.

Flowgrams and Screencasts

A simple solution to this is to use screencasts and there are plenty of products that enable us to create a narrated walk-through of content. Most of these tools are static (i.e., PowerPoint slide shows) or YouTube like videos. What if instead of static images and files, you wanted to walk students through live Web pages, or even a mix of live Web pages and static content such as images and media?

This is where Flowgram comes into play! Using Flowgrams an instructor can create interactive guided presentations by combining web pages, photos, PowerPoint Slide shows using your own voice, audio files, notes and highlights. A typical Flowgram contains live pages that students can control, scroll, click on links, view videos and perform other interactive gestures with the content. Flowgrams have been given several monikers by the press – The Talking Web, Interactive Screencast, Web Mashup etc. Using Flowgrams teachers can create tutorials, reading assignments that students can access dynamically and learn the material in a highly interactive way. Given that Flowgrams can import content from PowerPoint presentations, instructors could very well use Flowgrams for their in-class or online teaching. It could also prove to be a very satisfying and rich experience for students to deliver their presentations as Flowgrams to the entire class.

Flowgrams enable instructors to bring together content (PowerPoint slides, RSS, pictures, files, web pages, photos, etc) into a single screencast using a simple and intuitive online interface . You could add narration to your Flowgrams using your own voice to tie the ideas together. This simulates the feel of taking the students on a guided tour of the material without getting distracted. You get to grasp the students' attention while showing the important aspects of the discussion and course material. All of these tasks are as simple as clicking on tools available on the web-based interface.

Teaching an Online Class

Flowgrams can easily & quickly create interactive training materials for guided learning especially for an online class. You can walk your students through web pages, photos, PowerPoint presentations using narration and annotations, tie together any digital content, and combine disparate web pages, videos, maps, docs and more into a single Flowgram. Since this is an approachable technology for students, it lets students create compelling Flowgrams as well. Creating a Flowgram using a PowerPoint file is simply a matter of uploading it. For an online class adding your voice and narrating your presentation simulates the feeling of the instructor being with the students in the classroom.

How is it Used?

All this is done without downloading any software, you just click on buttons available on the web interface. Easily share your course content with your students online and offline. Sharing a Flowgram is as easy as sharing a link. Email it, embed the Flowgram into blog postings using a widget, export to a downloadable video or share via YouTube. Students simply have to click a link to start playing. All this can be accomplished in minutes. Your Flowgram takes the students through automatic transition from page to page and scrolls to the highlighted sections of a page to guide them along. A screenshot of the web-interface is shown below:

Flowgram Web Interface

Finally, the author of a Flowgram determines the availability of his/her Flowgrams. You can choose to make it public, private or protected to be released only to a selected group of people.

So far we have restricted our discussion towards the educational applications of Flowgram. The other applications of Flowgrams include:
  • Presentations for business
  • Explaining things to friends
  • Talk about your photos
  • Site tours
  • Rich blog posts

How Can I get Started?

Try it out today -- Watch a few Flowgrams and make your own Flowgram. It is free, no downloads or installs required.

Flowgram Homepage: http://www.flowgram.com/

Happy Flowgramming!

Related Technologies and Resources

Watch a Flowgram Introductory Tutorial here.
Need Help: Check out the Flowgram forums.