10 online whiteboard options for remote learning

eLearning

eLearning | Friday, April 17, 2020

10 online whiteboard options for remote learning


Let's face it. When you're not present in your classroom, you miss your whiteboard.

It's convenient. Everyone in the room can see it. You can write text and draw pictures on it, then erase it clean in an instant.

When you're teaching remotely, the physical whiteboard may be gone. But the concept of using it to teach doesn't have to be.

In this post, you'll see 10 options for teaching remotely with whiteboards. With most of these options, you can ...

  • Start a video call using your preferred video call platform (Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, etc.). Share your screen so students can see your whiteboard.
  • Use a screen recording tool to capture video you can share with students later. Use a tool like Screencastify, Loom, Snagit, the Game Bar app in Windows, etc.

Have another idea for online whiteboarding for remote learning? Share it in a comment below!

Whiteboards while recording your screen

If you want to do your whiteboarding digitally, there are lots of tools that can help. Bring up any of the options below on your laptop or Chromebook and start teaching!

Canvas chrome app (canvas.apps.chrome)

Want to jot some simple doodles on a screen? This simple app gives you several pen options, different colors and an eraser. It's great for a touchscreen device and is servicable for non-touchscreens. Its lack of features may be its best benefit: it's easy to use. Plus, it automatically saves your creations for re-using or downloading as an image.

This free Google tool isn't just about expensive interactive displays. You can use the app for free on any device. It creates whiteboards that are a lot like slides. Add sticky notes, drawings, images, text and more. Move them around on the screen easily. Then, share your "jams" with others and let them collaborate. If you don't want to write with a pen, this is a great non-touchscreen option.

Whiteboard app in Windows

If you have a Windows laptop (or Surface tablet), this has been waiting for you all along! Just type the word "whiteboard" in to the search next to the Windows button. It offers a variety of pens, a ruler, and a lasso to move items around. You can even add text, notes, lists, templates, images, and more. 

Aww app (awwapp.com)

This online whiteboard app offers lots of the features you'd expect: a vareity of pens, shapes, notes and text. You can also upload PowerPoint slides and images. But here's what makes Aww App stand out: others can join your board and add to it in real time. FYI: Your boards disappear after a period of inactivity, so if you want to keep what you created, you might export it when you're done.

OneNote (onenote.com)

If you have a touchscreen Windows device, this is a fantastic option. OneNote is my favorite notetaking app. Open a fresh note in OneNote to use as your online whiteboard. It's an infinite canvas, so it gets as big as you want. It integrates nicely with other Microsoft 365 products. Plus, OneNote has GREAT math options: symbols, an equation editor, and other math tools.

Slides/PowerPoint

If you don't have a touchscreen device, you may love this one best. Bring up an online slide (in Google Slides or in PowerPoint). Add text, images, shapes, lines, videos, etc. Use that as your whiteboard and record your screen while it's up. Note: If you have the PowerPoint desktop app, you can draw and then turn your writing into editable text, moveable shapes and math equations.

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Whiteboards recordings in an app

Mobile apps -- smartphones and tablets -- have some nice options for online whiteboarding. With both of these, you can draw on a virtual whiteboard -- and it will record video and your voice via your microphone.

Flipgrid app (flipgrid.com)

In your Flipgrid teacher account, click the "Shorts" tab at the top. It's a video recording platform for teachers! Change the background to white or black. Draw, add images and stickers, move them around, and more. Plus, you can swap back to your camera at any time to do a face-to-face explanation. Share the video with students with a link.

Explain Everything or Educreations app

These apps -- Explain Everything and Educreations -- have helped teachers create instructional videos for years. Draw on a whiteboard. Record the screen and record your voice. Add images. Flip page by page. When you're done, share with a link.

Recording real whiteboards

If the real thing will work, you may not need to go digital. Grab an actual white board or a sheet of paper. Either of these options may work for you!

Use a real whiteboard

There's no shame in using an actual physical white board! Grab a small magnetic white board (like students put in lockers). If you have a wall-sized whiteboard, aim the camera at it and use it! Just be sure your camera is close enough -- and that you're writing big enough -- and that your marker is thick enough -- for students to see.

Use your phone as a document camera

This is a fun hack that's easier than you'd think! Start a video call. Then use a second device -- a smartphone is best -- and join the video call with it. Set the phone on a tall stack of books with the camera facing down at a paper (or small whiteboard). Instant document camera!


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  • Zita Noel says:

    Very interisting

  • […] is a bit clunky, isn’t it?), Matt Miller from DitchThatTextbook has great advice for you in this post. I like that he includes built-in boards in the apps like Flipgrid, native Windows IWB and even […]

  • Renee Johnson says:

    Check out whiteboard.fi. Teachers can use it to demonstrate a concept to students. Or need a way for private student replies? Students can reply on their own whiteboard and it goes directly to the teacher. It’s free and no need to log in or create an account.

  • WorkWithoutWalls says:

    A great virtual whiteboard is Deskle.com. It’s got lots of features and it runs smoothly and quickly.

  • WorkWithoutWalls says:

    Nice, but you should include Deskle.com because it works on every browser, uses very little CPU and can get started for free with a team of up to 50 members.

  • I use a white board app called Miro
    https://miro.com/

    I love this free tool!

  • […] Drive and allows you to present your whiteboard to people viewing remotely. Which makes it a great online whiteboard option for distance […]

  • Luis Dávila says:

    Muchas gracias Matt. Echa un vistazo a https://twitter.com/LUISDAVILABAND1/status/1277961118862827520?s=19. Aquí un listado de más de 20 pizarras virtuales.
    Saludos.

  • l.klein says:

    In the spring rush I just just used Microsoft Paint. Only teacher could work on the screen, nothing to install, I already knew how to use it.

    I missed the individual whiteboards we had used in face to face class. My adult ESL students were not very good at putting their spelling answer in chat and refraining from pressing enter until everyone had done the work. I am planning to see if Whiteboard.fi will work once my school returns my equipment. I want to see all the students work and I do not want them to see each others work.

  • We are using online whiteboard Collaboard:
    https://www.collaboard.app/

    Collaboard is one of the best apps for digital handwriting and sketching. Really useful when working a lot of digital pens.

  • Kelly says:

    Are there controls with any of these websites/programs that allow you to control when/if students are allowed to draw on a classroom whiteboard and/or show their whiteboard?

    • Matt Miller says:

      I’d check the collaborative whiteboard programs — including those listed in the comments in this post — for an ability to lock the board. When it comes to showing their whiteboard, if you’re talking about remote learning, the ability to share a screen would be handled through the video conferencing program.

  • diptidoodle says:

    Getting an artist’s drawing tablet and stylus is absolutely necessary to writing reasonably legible math on these online whiteboards ( Canvas , aww, Onenote…. ).

    I suggest Get the XP-PEN Star G430S : https://www.xp-pen.com/product/52.html pen tablet . It’s perfect for your needs and less expensive. Since you won’t be using it for digital art, you are paying for features that you won’t use or need.

  • Chaitanya says:

    thank you for the information

  • Madeline Rawley Crouse says:

    Wow! All this information gave me GREAT ideas for how to record myself using a whiteboard for students to learn! Will be back to Ditch That Textbook when I have more time!

  • Grapic (https://www.grapic.co) makes it super easy to record real whiteboards (and regular pen & paper) and share it directly into online meetings (eg. Zoom) with just your phone. The shared video gets stabilised so it looks clear to the viewers, just like a regular Powerpoint presentation. Try it out!

  • Marcin says:

    One more to add to the list… Share a whiteboard/blackboard/flip-chart/paper live. Content is enhanced for legibility and obstacles are made “see-through.” Still in beta but already decent, methinks!

    https://sharetheboard.com

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