Discover the power of whiteboards apps for in-school, online or hybrid learning

Why?

Written notes are awesome and colourful but I guess you probably have a limited range of two or three colours if you use a physical whiteboard whereas you’ll have a merely infinite range of colours on the aforementioned apps. Moreover, on note-taking apps such as Notability or GoodNotes, you can add rich content like images, sounds, shapes… Even a web page!

Plus

By using your iPad (or any tablet by the way),

  • You won’t turn your back to your students anymore.
  • You’ll be able to write while walking through your class (be careful though).
  • You’ll never have to erase at the end of the class your lesson (and think of it: why would we have to erase all the work we’ve done?)
  • You can send it to a missing student (simply export your board to PDF or image).
  • Students can review the lesson at their own pace (if you recorded the lesson).

How to do that?

As a start, I mentioned some great iPad apps, but here are some of the apps I use as a whiteboard and this is how I share my lesson with students.

Whiteboard apps

How to share with online students

Most of the time, when remote learning occurs, we can use the Zoom built-in whiteboard. But, as you will see down below, you can find more and more powerful whiteboard apps.

What I like in these apps

GoodNotes and Notability are great note-taking apps (and with a projector, you have a really nice whiteboard to share with all your students). And if you want to get a glimpse on the possibilities of the latter, please have a look at Tips for Online Learning Using Notability. But whatever are the qualities of these apps, they are not very good when it comes to collaboration (even the new GoodNotes features are quite limited).

Peer.school

I do like Peer.school. It’s a free and open-source project. In addition to that, you can find the code on GitHub.

WhiteBoard.fi

WhiteBoard.fi is a lot more elaborate. It’s free and they have a very nice privacy statement as well. Here’s an excerpt:

Whiteboard Chat

Whiteboard Chat is probably the most fascinating iteration of this kind of app since it introduces the fusion of a full collaborative whiteboard with a conferencing video app. Moreover, it’s free. It’s possible to use it without logging in, so it’s quick and handy. And there is a ton of nice features such as creating a poll, set a timer, insert math or music symbols, invite people, etc.

Ziteboard

This one is not free (at least not completely: see the pricing on this page). In the free plan, you can create 3 whiteboards.

Tableau noir

Don’t like whiteboards? Do you prefer a blackboard? We have that too. Go to Tableaunoir, an online blackboard.

There’s more

We mentioned at the beginning of this article that we needed two apps: a videoconferencing app and a whiteboard app as well. But there is two more use of whiteboards I’d like to mention.

Explain anything to a student

This time, we are going to use a whiteboard not for the all class, but for one student only. And to do that, we are going to use a screen recording app such as Loom when we want to explain something specific which requires more than a few lines in a mail. In fact, to be able to display the work of a student and to explain the mistakes that have been made is simply extraordinary. This is something quite easy to do in a brick-and-mortar school when everyone is physically present but if you are online, this comes handy.

Record your lesson in a brief video

In class, when we are running out of time and that I don’t want to take more time to make the students write the lesson because I want to move on and work on the next activity, I choose, when I go home, to record a brief video explaining quickly what is the gist of our work so that they know what they have to learn and remember.

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Yann Houry

Yann Houry

Teacher and Director of Academic Research & Innovation @ Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill