During synchronous online teaching sessions, there are many reasons why you may wish to draw or sketch out an idea with students visually, or use a “digital whiteboard” tool to collaborate and organize thoughts during brainstorming or live discussions. You might want your class as a whole, or smaller groups within it, to build meaning with complex ideas by creating mind maps or other visual organizers. You might want students to share ideas, or media from around the web, on a collaborative bulletin board filled with “sticky notes” and hyperlinks. You also may just find it easier to communicate certain ideas, or guide students through a process, by drawing something out “by hand” — an approach that mimics many tried-and-true teaching approaches based on chalkboards in the classroom.
In this post, I’ll cover a number of digital whiteboard, drawing, or sketching tools that you might consider incorporating into your next synchronous teaching session.
1. Zoom Whiteboard Tool
This tool is best for building on-the-fly from a blank workspace. You can create multiple pages, and have the option of allowing participants to also do some drawing. Save is as part of the video recording, or export just the whiteboard content as a PNG or PDF file. See this link for more information.
2. Zoom Annotate Tool
This works well if you wish to have drawings happen on top of another image — such as a Word document, PDF organizer, template, or photograph. Meeting participants can also add their annotations (drawings). Save it as part of the video recording, or capture a screenshot as a PNG or PDF file. See this link for more information.
3. Connect your iPhone/iPad to Zoom
Sharing the feed from your iPhone or iPad device to Zoom (via AirPlay or a cable) gives you additional options — basically anything you can do on your external device, you can share on Zoom. So if you might like to use your iPad stylus to draw on top of Powerpoint slides (see next option) or sketch something using the Notes app, you can share that with your students. See this link for more information.
4. Draw on slides during a Powerpoint presentation
When you share a Powerpoint presentation, you can draw on top of the slides (with your mouse, or with a digital pen or stylus) to emphasize a point, fill out a template, or make connections. At the end of the presentation, you have the option of saving the “inked” annotations (e.g., to share the annotated Powerpoint file or export the slides to PDF) or discarding them. See this link for more information.
5. Microsoft Whiteboard
As part of the Office365 suite of products (which all USask users have access to), this collaborative digital canvas allows users to add notes, drawings, images, and more. You can pre-load saved templates and share access to pre-made whiteboards with a direct link that your students can access, or students can generate their own whiteboards from their Office365 accounts. Completed whiteboards can be exported as PNG files. See this link for more information.
An external (not internally-supported) tool, Mural is a virtual collaborative whiteboard. While the pen and drawing tools are rudimentary, Mural really shines as a mind-mapping tool with virtual sticky notes, icons, shapes, connectors, images, and the option for creating lesson frameworks in advance. Completed Murals can be exported as PDF or PNG files. You will need to create an account to generate a new project (limited number of murals on a free account), and participants can add to your mural without having to make their own accounts. See this link for more information, or visit the Mural Templates gallery to get some ideas on how to use this tool.
An external (not internally-supported) tool, Padlet is an online multimedia collaborative bulletin board. Users can add a wide range of media types, such as text, images, video, audio, and links from around the web. Completed Padlets can be exported as an image, PDF, Excel, or CSV file. You will need to create an account to generate a new project (limited number of Padlet boards on a free account), and participants can add to your Padlet board without having to make their own accounts. See this link for more information, or visit the Padlet Gallery to get some ideas on how to use this tool.
Still Not Sure??
Still not sure which of these tools might be best for your teaching situation, or to support the learning activity you have in mind? Message firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss these tools with an Instructional Designer, and pinpoint the best one for you and your students.
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