Dabbleboard is equally complicated. You can add pictures, diagrams, curves, arrows, shapes, typed text, as well as hand-written notes. This is a great alternative when you don't have a stylus for drawing or a tablet device because you can type the text and then draw arrows and lines to connect ideas. Dabbleboard also allows you to sign up for an account to save your work to either return to later or email to others. However, because of all of the options, Dabbleboard is tough to you on anything other than a computer.
Scriblink is the way to go. It has options for mathematical symbols and complete formulas, and a button to turn the whiteboard into graph paper for creating graphs out of the equations. Like Dabbleboard, it has a lot of options in colors, pen thicknesses, and the ability to upload pictures. However, it has one major downside and that is it is based on Java. Java is fantastic on computers, but can't be run on iPhones and iPads.
The reason I turned to online whiteboards is the ability to collaborate with students in real time. All three of the tools here give you a unique web address that you can share with your students to allow them to see what you are writing and have them add to the drawing. Dabbleboard and Scriblink both give you a chat window on the side (similar to Instant Messenger) which allows students to pose questions to you while are adding to the drawing. Because they have the ability to have an unlimited number of users, students could even answer questions posed by other students all within the chat window.
You are probably wondering why I still prefer A Web Whiteboard when the others offer so much more. The night before my Honors Chemistry class had their midterm exam I ran an online review session using a Google+ Hangout and AWW. With computers coming with microphones and webcams standard, there is no reason to have a chat window. Even if they don't have a webcam, they can still ask questions through their microphone, hear my response and see the answer appear on the whiteboard. As I was running the review, I would write reactions and formulas on the screen, and my students could make changes as I was writing if they wanted to ask questions to develop a deeper understanding.
So I have given you an easy way to use online whiteboards outside the classroom, but how about during class? Let me pose a few scenarios to you:
- A classroom set of iPads is brought in and every student takes one to his/her desk. You have a DO NOW problem posted for the students to complete. You post the web address for the whiteboard on the screen and the students direct their browser to the location. Randomly you call on Johnny to share his answer with the class. Unfortunately, Johnny is a little shy so instead of getting up in front of class he just writes his response onto the screen of the iPad and not only does it appear on the screen in front, but it also appears on every iPad in the room.
- One of your students, Victoria, brings in her personal laptop from home. You have shared the address for the online whiteboard with the class and Victoria is watching you complete the DO NOW on her screen as the rest of the class sees it appear at the front of the room. She uses JING or another screencast software and records the entire problem with your voice in the background explaining the problem while she is also taking notes in her notebook. She emails it to herself or puts it in Dropbox to watch at home. You have also been recording it and post it to the class' YouTube Channel for students who were absent.
- You are having the students practice their vocabulary with simple games. Two students are playing Hangman on their iPads. As Alex is writing out the clues on his screen, they are appearing on Evan's screen. Evan writes a letter on his screen, and Alex puts it into the appropriate location in the words. Sounds too simple for an online whiteboard, right? Forgot to mention that while Alex is sitting in your class in NJ, Evan is halfway across the country in a classroom in Iowa.
So, how can you see yourself using an online whiteboard in your teaching? How do you see your students using this to collaborate with....their classmates? ....students in other schools? ....Scientists/experts in a specific field?
[Editor's Note: Podcasts/Screencasts will be detailed in a later post and tools such as JING will be demonstrated.]