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Online & Virtual Whiteboards - Thoughts from 3 Bett Speakers

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Gouldian Finch | December 13, 2018
Online & Virtual Whiteboards - Thoughts from 3 Bett Speakers

Online and Virtual whiteboards are here.

Over the past few decades, the average classroom has seen a shift from analog to digital technologies. 

From chalkboards to digital whiteboards (including ViewSonic’s ViewBoard) and from notebooks to tablets, it has become clear that the very fabric of education has had to adapt to the times in order to keep students engaged and properly learning.

What’s more is that not only do these technologies keep students to par, but they also have the potential offer more opportunities than were ever possible previously. 

In order to get insight from those who know best, we spoke to three individuals who spoke the BETT Show in 2018. In this piece, their opinions on technology in the classroom, particularly regarding online/virtual whiteboards will be explored.

online whiteboards

Neil Rickus

Neil Rickus is an EdTech Consultant & Former Teacher. Through his capacity as a social media influencer, he answered the questions below.

What is a virtual/online whiteboard and what does it mean to you?

For myself, a virtual/online whiteboard is a great way to share content with children, which can be modified in real time. For example, multiple children could all be adding their thoughts to the whiteboard, which the teacher can then comment and give appropriate feedback on. As content can be from a variety of sources, pupils may choose to share images, audio and video to enhance the quality of their work. Many virtual/online whiteboards even allow the user to create a narrated video as they add content and manipulate on-screen objects. The video can subsequently be shared with a wider audience to demonstrate pupils’ learning.

Finally, the use of a virtual/online whiteboard helps children get used to using technology to communicate appropriately in a public environment. As comments, annotations and narration can all be viewed by other people, pupils need to carefully consider the language they are using, plus ensure they can be easily understood by others.

What are the challenges associated with virtual/online whiteboards?

There are a number of issues to consider before implementing about virtual and online whiteboards in the classroom. Some of these areas are outlined below, along with possible Solutions and further areas to consider.

External resource creation

As the software being used for the virtual online whiteboard can often be new within a school, there is often a requirement to produce additional resources for use within lessons. However, there is increasingly a range of content, such as presentations and interactive elements, which are available for free online, such as the TES, online teacher forums and from subject-specific websites such as the Computing at schools (CAS) resources area. As the whiteboard software can often handle media in a wide variety of formats, the content from different sources can be easily combined into a single presentation. Care should be taken to ensure the resources used are suitable for the children in your class and are customized for their needs.

Limited device access 

If content will be accessed using technology within the classroom, it is important devices are readily available and, where feasible, form part of pupils’ everyday experiences in lessons. Where one to one device provision is not available, it may be necessary to book devices out in advance and work with both staff and pupils, such as Digital Leaders, to ensure they are charged and working as expected.  Where devices are being shared, it is often beneficial to give children dedicated roles at the machine or to ensure their time in front of the input devices is managed fairly. Many schools are increasingly investing in individual devices, such as Chromebooks, to allow additional technology to be available to pupils within the classroom, beyond the central digital whiteboard, in a cost-effective manner. 


The fickle nature of technology 

When implementing virtual and online whiteboard technologies, it is important to consider not only the cost of devices but also the infrastructure within the school. For example, it may be necessary to upgrade wireless access points or network infrastructure to cope with the increased use of technology, which should be factored in when implementing a solution. Whilst this may have a significant cost, it is likely to affect the usage of other technology in the school and increase opportunities for communication and collaboration.

What practices can maximize success when using online/virtual whiteboards?

To get the most out of your implementation of virtual and online whiteboard solution, there are a number of areas to consider, which are outlined below:

Make lessons interactive 

Whilst virtual and online whiteboards could be used to simply display content on pupils’ devices, software, such as ViewSonic’s ViewBoard, allows children to record their own thoughts and to easily share these with the rest of the class. This could be through sharing the content of their screen on both the main display at the front of the classroom and other devices in the room, or it could be contributing to a shared, collaborative space, which can later be revisited. This is particularly beneficial as an assessment for a learning tool, as it allows both the teacher and students to revisit their previous work as the topic progresses.

Ensure content is engaging for pupils 

Virtual and online whiteboard software has a number of inbuilt tools, which can be used to engage pupils on the task in hand. These often include animated objects, such as moving characters, which can interact with other objects on the screen. In addition to this, multimedia content, including videos from YouTube, can be imported into the software, such as ViewSonic’s ViewBoard, and displayed it at an appropriate point in the lesson. Where feasible, content should be related to pupils’ interests to further increase engagement.

Set ground rules 

 Depending on pupils’ age and experience of using technology in the classroom, it may be necessary to work together as a class to give appropriate guidance for how to contribute during whiteboard activities. This may be linked to the school’s e-safety and digital literacy curriculum should be age appropriate, and accessible to all. With that in mind, the teacher should [more easily] be able to manage interactions to ensure all pupils can contribute to online discussions. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of online/virtual whiteboards?

Advantages

  • Content can be created by multiple pupils at the same time
  • Feedback can be given by teachers online
  • Students can use the narration tools to explain their work 

Disadvantages

  • Students may spend significant periods of time using electronic devices
  • The network infrastructure may need to be upgraded to handle efficient, real-time communication
  • Pupils might require guidance on appropriate online behavior

 

online whiteboards

Dr. Neelam Parmar

Dr. Neelam Parmar is a Director of E-learning for Primary & Secondary Schools. Through her capacity as a social media influencer, she answered the questions below.

What is a virtual/online whiteboard and what does it mean to you?

New multi-interactive online whiteboards have grown in popularity over the past few years.  They have emerged from traditional whiteboards, which although offered great promise in student-teacher interaction, they are often used as glorified projector screens.  Often described as a whole-classroom learning tool, schools have discovered how new online boards are effective tools for improving learning, communication, and collaboration.  

Some effective scenarios in today’s classrooms demonstrate how teachers have used the new interactive boards to stimulate team competitions and spelling tests through interactive apps such as Squeebles or Kings of Maths.  Students enjoy coming to the front of the class and are engaged by competing with one another. All through playful learning, and supported by the use of interactive whiteboards, research shows that when children become hands-on, they go brains-on too and this is when they learn most effectively (Experiential Learning). 

What is a good learning strategy associated with online/virtual whiteboards?

Online virtual whiteboards have found its place in the classroom and schools have discovered that they are effective tools for improving and accelerating digital literacy skills with students.  In collaboration with multi-interactive online screens in the class, virtual applications work hand in hand to share information and ideas, with increased development participation, collaboration, and improved feedback. Like any tool, virtual whiteboards will only be effective if used meaningfully, both in regards to teaching and learning.  


In order to fully participate in today’s global community, schools are looking to offer new opportunities for students. With some of the newer forms of virtual whiteboards, there are a number of innovative ways for integrating the 5 C’s + 1 model, which includes the following:

  • Creativity
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking
  • Citizenship
  • Connection

What practices can maximize success when using online/virtual whiteboards?


Take part in virtual collaboration

Online whiteboards allow both teacher and students to collaborate in open classroom discussions. Live discussions such as the use of Google Earth can not only help in geography lessons but in almost every class, it can be helpful in exploring history lessons to study different cultures, civilizations, languages etc. By reflecting individual devices onto the interactive screen, The GeoGuessr app is one such useful app in which a user can travel around the world using street view technology and guess where it is.  Online whiteboards support students in the classroom to work together, elaborate on their ideas and allow them new virtual experiences that were once not possible. 

Emphasize digital citizenship

We are now at a time where multi-touch interactive whiteboards offer the merging of the physical and virtual space, offering new opportunities for both teaching and learning purposes.  The use of the Baiboard (which is free to use) is highly productive for conducting group sessions in which sets of participants can communicate with one another and update material on the app simultaneously.  It offers iPad to browser sharing so that students can participate from anywhere and communicate in real time.  This offers a whole new level of digital citizenship in which peer to peer learning takes precedence over silo individual learning spaces. 

Engage in creative feedback methods

Being able to capture one’s lesson, save it and have it replayed for students is a boon to offering flexible learning with your students.  With the new interactive View Sonic Whiteboards and inbuilt board software, teachers now have the option to record their student’s learning experiences and offer onscreen editing in which they can write, draw and drag with multimedia. Working interactively with cloud-based drives, and YouTube, new functionally makes possible for live screen recording and annotation in discussions. This can help personalize the student’s learning journey and offer new modes of critical understanding that goes beyond the classroom walls. 

online whiteboards
Nicole Ponsford

Nicole Ponsford is an EdTech Consultant & Former Teacher. Through her capacity as a social media influencer, she answered the questions below.

What is a virtual/online whiteboard and what does it mean to you?

The modern school curriculum is an ever developing beast. 

We are all aware of how the political, academic and pedagogical discussions around the modern school curriculum seem to throw it into the future one minute - and into the prehistoric past the next. The same can be said for the evolution of teaching tools, like the digital whiteboard, from their analog past, to their digital futures, to the difficulties surrounding availabilities and shortages. 

This spectrum can be chalked up to the breaking-news implications of global reference points (like the OECD and PISA) for our policymakers (and therefore us) on a Monday, the difference between being either a traditional or progressive educator (or somewhere in between) on a Tuesday, having both knowledge-rich (Wednesday) and inclusive curriculums, to being evidence-based (Thursday) and illustrating an inclusive digital literacy stance (Friday’s thoughts). 

As a curriculum creator using whatever tools are at my disposal,  ranging from used books to digital whiteboards, you pause for breath at the weekend only to be thrown head-long into new approaches in Monday’s briefing and after-school meeting sessions. The main curriculum will stay the same from the start of term to the end - but there is no doubt that thought out this time, new resources will rear their head (a video on your social media feed, a book from a parent or an aside from a student that makes you reinvent the next lesson as a result) and you will add, edit and evolve your lesson planning. Normally by adding more and more to it - right?

What are the challenges associated with virtual/online whiteboards?

So, what happens if you are the one responsible for designing and creating it? Where do you put all of this ‘stuff’? As a Head of Department, a curriculum-lead, and an examiner, I am all too aware of how to create a content-rich curriculum. It demands you to have all of the ‘why’s in your head (see above), in order to produce learning opportunities personalized to the eager little learners sat before you. 

I have always been keen to integrate a mixture of digital multimedia in my curriculums - for that total ‘edutainment’ experience. This, however, requires something that doesn’t seem very exciting - until you require somewhere to hold all of those videos, links and new content - STORAGE. My predecessors had folders - rows of rainbow-colored ring-binders on shelves. Then it was ‘floppy discs’, CDs, desktop folders, external hard drives, USBs, but now we have the future - online storage or ‘cloud storage’. What’s more is that these disparate concepts have merged into the tools gaining in popularity - digital whiteboards. 

Luckily, unlike 15 years ago when I started using Mac suites with my students, cloud storage offers teachers seemingly unlimited storage space for their curriculum content. This enables you to downloaded and upload to your hearts’ content - and also share to a variety of platforms and devices. The tech giants are now on this too with Apple Education recently upgrading their online student logins from 5G to 200G, the roll-out of Classroom app across all Mac (not just iPads) and the upcoming launch of the Schoolwork cloud-based app so teachers ‘tap into’ Apple apps and check/assign assignments made inside apps - and you can check on their progress. Here is a video to show you the Apple demo. This is against the existing Microsoft Education’s Learning Tools (which I love) and Office365, and Google Education’s G-Suite used by many educators. 

But what is the next evolutionary step? For me it is classroom devices, such as interactive whiteboards, that integrate cloud storage and easy content creation - and that means going back to the drawing board - almost literally. There is one classroom device that stands out from the pack for me. I almost had discounted it as a classroom dinosaur against the evolution of shiny hand-held devices, but it has now evolved to take on those around it - The Online Whiteboard. 

What practices can maximize success when using online/virtual whiteboards?

One example of an online whiteboard is the ‘myViewBoard and ViewBoard’. With multi-user simultaneous touch and being able to use fingers for writing, this already is a class beyond the first interactive whiteboards I used. However, it is the online whiteboard content creation and sharing platform that really illustrates how hard it can work for you. The work you do on the whiteboard can be shared immediately with IOS, Android and Windows/Mac/Chrome users. Watch this video to see. This means that your students can access your resources from a variety of digital devices - for example when they use their own personal devices. 

As well as being able to combine writing, drawing and multimedia tools, you can even drag in Google Images and YouTube videos onto the board - AND capture/record screen images and annotations for future use. You can even incorporate existing integration panels such as Google Drive, One Drive, and Dropbox, as part of your flexible data and cloud storage solutions. 

In a GDPR world, the ‘myViewBoard’ (nice) offers a secure platform powered by Amazon web-services to enable group communication wherever, whenever. And when you have logged out, there is a default cloud storage provider that saves what you want and deletes (without a trace) what you don’t. Mission complete. Gold standard. 

So, if your digital curriculum storage is a disorganized and cramped as some of my classroom cupboards used to be, it is now time to escape from the past - and evolve your content’s home. You never know, you could upgrade to a cloud with a gold lining instead.