FlowBoard EDU for iPad: A presentation app that gets out of the way

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Presentation software. You either love it, or live with it. There isn’t too much in between. For years PowerPoint was the market leader, but the goliath of the PC presentation world hasn’t really kept up with presenting in the mobile world. It has left a niche in the market for other developers to leap in to banish WordArt, Clip Art and crazed animations to the same place that Clippy the paperclip now resides. There are lots of decent iPad presentation apps available. Keynote is probably the best known, but others like Haiku Deck, SlideShare and now FlowBoard EDU are adding some well thought out features to presenting on the iPad. 

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Aimed primarily at the education market, FlowBoard EDU is slightly different to your everyday presentation app and I like it. For years, presentation software has seemed to be about the presentation software. In fact, as most people will know, the presentation is about the person presenting and the presentation software is a supplemental aid. Everyone reading this will no doubt have sat through the PowerPoint presentation from hell, yes, you know the ones, with the animations which make one letter fall from the top of the screen ONE AT A TIME. The presentations with tons of text on which the presenter reads out. The presentations with crackers ClipArt which boil your blood just by looking at them (am I going over the top here?). Thankfully, FlowBoard EDU dispenses with all of this by use of clean modern templates and a lack of animation. The focus is just on the content.

Insert images easily

Insert images easily

Making a presentation is beautifully simple. I thought Keynote on the iPad was straightforward, but FlowBoard EDU streamlines things to a greater extent making presentations pretty quick to knock up. Much of the app is gesture based, using flicks and multiple finger presses to add and switch between slides and content and everything is extremely responsive. I like the way that if, for example, you want to add an image, you can do it from pretty much all external image services within the app. Gone are the days of finding your images, saving them in the Camera Roll and importing them. FlowBoard allows you to import directly from a number of places like Google Images, Bing, Facebook, as well as cloud services like DropBox, Google Drive, Instagram and so on. The same is true of video where you can import directly in from YouTube and the previously mentioned cloud services. This makes for a really seamless experience and it looks like the developers have thought carefully about workflow and the cloud environment that we use.

FlowBoard EDU is a bit like a cross between a book and a prevention in that, as mentioned there are no animations, but you can add a fair amount of text. I know this is a presentation no-no but FlowBoards seem to be primarily aimed at the online cloud world where presentations are viewed on a screen in front of someone rather than everyone being focused on a big screen. And why not? I’d be amazed if an audience that you needed to present to didn’t have a device of some sort on them. You could put the link up for your audience to go to which would download the presentation direct on their own device. If this is the case then you can afford to have a little more text on the screen. Could FlowBoard EDU be the end of bullet points?!

Import video options

Import video options

As long as you stick to the templates, you can produce some very professional, multimedia presentations extremely quickly. The workflow in FlowBoard EDU is very good and you really don’t need to leave the app to do anything, except maybe copy and paste text from a browser. All of this is great if you are using FlowBoard EDU in an education environment as there is little in the way of distracting animations, WordArt and the students can focus on what is important, the content. Some of the education based templates encourage sensible use of presentations, rather than using the slides to splat every fact known to man on. There are also subject specific templates, such as a History one which sets out the key areas for a subject on each slide, or a Science experiment write up which encourages a sensible layout. These are all good ideas as again, it encourages students to focus on the content rather than the fiddly parts of a presentation that they can get bogged down with.

Science experiment write up template

Science experiment write up template

FlowBoard is an excellent presentation app, and probably the best I have come across specifically for education. It doesn’t get in the way, yet encourages students to focus on showing what they know, rather than packing it with inane animations and WordArt. Export options are good and I like the way you can generate a link which makes sharing pretty easy. If I was compiling a wish list for this app, I’d like to see an option to export presentations to a cloud service of my choice, simply because it is best to file all of your resources in the same place, rather than all over the place. You can do this with the app’s PDF export, but PDF isn’t the same as a good old presentation file. All in all though, if you use a lot of media rich presentations you can’t really go wrong with FlowBoard EDU.

FlowBoard is available here in the App Store for $4.99. The price will rise after the 1st September.

Disclosure: The developers of FlowBoard provided me with a promo code for this app.

James Potter

My day job is Director of Technology at one of the UK's leading independent schools. I'm on a daily mission to use, and learn to use technology in the most creative, innovative and transformational ways. The iPad ticks all of these boxes. My geekery also extends to a passion for cricket, amateur astronomy, video gaming and bad guitar playing. You can contact me on Twitter with the link below.

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