Friday, November 22, 2013

Collaborative Whiteboard

The idea of a flexible workspace for students and adults online is exciting.  Add the ability to collaborate with others while sharing and demonstrating learning, makes it all even better.  Two new tools, each with their own advantages and limitations might suite the needs of your classroom.

A Web Whiteboard is an app that allows you to use your device to draw sketches, add text and collaborate with others while you show your ideas.  AWW is great for students as it does not require an account and allows kids a simple interface without too many options.  However, in many circumstances, that is limiting.
AWW allows you to freehand draw with many great colors and sizes of pen.  It allows you to add simple text, but not to reposition the text on the page which can be frustrating.  There are no shape tools nor are you able to import an image or drawing to the canvas.
AWW's collaboration feature makes working with others super easy.  Click on "Invite" and you are given a URL to share with others so that they can draw and share along with you.  Once you are done having others share with you, if you click "share" again you can stop sharing with others.  Kind of a nice feature to revoke the ability for collaboration.
When the Whiteboard is complete if you click "Post" you are taken to a screen where you can see the board full size and then can grab the URL to share.
A Web Whiteboard is an interesting tool for the classroom that I think kids might really enjoy.  There is great potential here and it is clear this is a tool ripe for further development.

**At the bottom of the homepage A Web Whiteboard asks "Are you a Teacher?"  If you click on this link you are taken to a page where you can sign up for their soon-to-come features as indicated and shared: "Using A Web Whiteboard in classes?  Soon, we're adding ability to store and reuse your boards, duplicate them and invite view-only participants to the board."

Another example of a collaborative board with some more options is RealTimeBoard.  This is similar in that it is an online collaborative Whiteboard but has many more features. RealTime, however, does require each user to sign in.  You can sign in through your Google account for the Free access.  Free means you have three boards however at this site, you can sign up for a free Education upgrade which would give you unlimited private boards to use.  There is Google Apps for Education and Google Drive integration which could be huge.  There is even an Chrome Extension that can be added.  I am not sure that this would be a tool that I would use for kids, but this would be great for a group of teachers or for a unique teaching tool.
RealTimeBoard offers a great introductory video that will give you an idea of the possibilities of this tool.

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