In today’s digital world, there are a surplus of technological tools to help nearly every person with their daily lives, especially for teachers. EdTech tools have proven to help facilitate and enhance teaching, but how do educators choose among the hundreds of tools that can assist in a variety of ways? You might decide you want to utilize a digital whiteboard tool, but even then, which one?
Digital whiteboards are super useful for both in-person and online teaching to better engage students with your material and individualize your teaching. Unlike physical whiteboards, digital whiteboards allow you to add and embed different objects, shapes, even pictures, files, or videos, into your whiteboard. With digital whiteboard tools, you and your students can even collaborate on the same board.
It can be difficult to choose with digital whiteboard tool to use in your classroom, especially when so many have similar qualities. To help you in this process, we’ve broken down 5 popular digital whiteboard tools -outlined their main differences and highlighted where each tool shines the brightest.
Microsoft Whiteboard: Best for Collaboration
If you are looking to collaborate on a whiteboard with your students, than Microsoft Whiteboard is the best tool to use. Its endless canvas, integration with other Microsoft applications, and ability to identify names & photos of students makes Microsoft Whiteboard the perfect collaboration candidate.
How to Use
You must have a Microsoft account to have access to Microsoft Whiteboard. There is an online web version or an app you can download for your devices. The online version has limited features compared to the application version. In addition, you can use Microsoft Whiteboard inside Teams with limited features.
Our favorite features of Microsoft Whiteboard are the galaxy pen, active stylus compatibility, and ink to shape or table. Ink to shape or table recognizes the shape you drew and creates a cleaner-looking shape in its place. The latency of Microsoft Whiteboard is exceptional, so it feels more real-time when collaborating with students. To view an example of this in real-time, check out this video.
Using it for Collaboration
First, invite your students to join your board. If you are using your school account, you can easily invite your whole class right from the side menu. If not, just copy the invite link to your students. Once your students have joined, and begin adding to the board, you can see their photos appear as they are writing. There is no choice to disable students from writing or deleting, so keep these brainstorming sessions casual!
Free! More features if subscribed to Microsoft Office 365.
Miro: Best for Brainstorming
If you are looking to use a whiteboard to record brainstorming sessions as a class, Miro may be best for you. Miro is great for brainstorming because they have a myriad of templates pre-made already right inside their application.
How to Use
Create an account at miro.com and use the whiteboards from that page, or download the app on your device and sign in to begin using.
Some of Miro’s best features are those for better interacting with your students. Once you have invited your students to the board, they can send reactions, like a fire, thumbs down, or heart to appear on the whiteboard. Students can also “follow” you around the board. Since it is an endless whiteboard, ensure students are in the right area with this feature. As a teacher, you can also follow a student around to ensure they are not off writing in their own part of the canvas.
Using it for Brainstorming
Miro has a whole library of templates that can be inserted into your whiteboard. Look through Brainstorming templates, their other lists of templates, or create your own! Once inserted into your board, it is fully customizable. you can your students can begin adding more right away. There is not a limit to the number of templates in one board, so go ahead and add more if needed.
Add comments on any part of the board, to provide students with feedback. you can even mention a student to ensure they see your note.
Miro has a Free version and Pro version. Pro includes extra features to interact with your students along with more privacy. The free version only provides access to 3 Miro whiteboards and if students are invited to one, they can view all three of them.
Explain Everything: Best for Recording
To easily record your voice and screen for a lesson or quick explanation, Explain Everything is the digital whiteboard pick for you. With recording and editing tools right inside the app, it is a one-stop shop.
How to Use
With both online and web versions, you can use Explain Everything without even having an account. However, to save your work or invite students, you will need to create your own account.
The ability to erase parts of images, objects, or videos that have been embedded into your board is a unique feature of Explain Everything. This allows you or your students to really create something original. Objects can be moved around on your page, but there are also locking and editing features if you prefer to keep those objects in one place and add more annotations or objects on top.
Using it for Recording
At the bottom in the middle of the screen, is the record button with a microphone option. With one click on the record button, the recording will start. Begin your annotations and explanation right away. If needed, there is also a laser feature on Explain Everything that allows you to point out parts of your board you are referencing. Explain Everything does have a limited page size, so if you need more space, you will have to add another page.
Once you have completed your explanation, click the record button to stop. Now, you can begin the reviewing and editing process. You may find the editor is confusing at first, but Explain Everything has a great help page. All the basic features of cutting and cropping parts of the video are there for your use.
Explain Everything has a limited Free version. With one access to one whiteboard page and the ability to share only a one-minute recording, there is not much wiggle room. The Pro version provides you access to more pages, recording minutes, and storage.
Whiteboard.chat: Best for All-in-One Usage
If you need a digital whiteboard tool with every imaginable feature, you might find it in Whiteboard.chat. Made by teachers for teachers, this is a tool you can trust to do it all. No other tools needed.
How to Use
Head over to www.whiteboard.chat to start drawing, no account needed. You can choose to Start Collaborating or Start Teaching.
The Collaborating option is similar to all the other whiteboard tools mentioned above. You can open up a board, invite your students and all collaborate under the same whiteboard.
When you choose to Start Teaching, each student will write on their own board. The teacher can view all the boards, but students can only see the teacher’s whiteboard, not their classmates. Below we focus on the Start Teaching option.
With so many things you can do, we decided the best feature of Whiteboard.chat is it’s abundance of features. But nonetheless, here are a few to highlight.
In Whiteboard.chat’s action menu, you have the option to open a demo student page. You can check out how a student views their board so you can really understand and help answer any questions they might have. In addition to being able to view your student’s boards, you can instantly send them a quick poll question to answer. This is a great way to keep them engaged and paying attention throughout the lesson.
Whiteboard.chat also has gizmos and widgets that you can insert into your whiteboard. These are interactive and animated objects for a wide range of subjects and activities. You can insert tools for math, science, art, and so much more to help provide examples to your students.
It is important to note that with a tool like this, the learning curve is high. If you want a digital whiteboard that can do everything, then you will benefit greatly by getting to know this tool. But if you aren’t looking for all the bells and whistles, then this may not be best tool for you.
Free! However, creating an account will give you the option to save your work. For more storage availability and no ads, upgrade to the Pro version.
ClassPoint: Best for Presenting
ClassPoint is the digital whiteboard tool to use if you like to annotate freely during your presentations. Integrated with PowerPoint, ClassPoint gives you the ability to open a whiteboard without ever having to leave your presentation.
How to Use
ClassPoint is an interactive teaching add-in for PowerPoint. You can download, install, and sign up from the button in the top right corner, or at classpoint.io. Once installed, you can begin using ClassPoint to whiteboard when you are presenting your PowerPoint presentation.
ClassPoint is mainly used to add interactive questions to PowerPoints so that you can better interact and engage with your students. With 5 different question types, there are many ways to implement these questions throughout your presentation. However, below, we just focus on the annotation and whiteboard features.
Using it When Presenting
With ClassPoint, you can open a customized digital whiteboard anytime during your presentation. So before you begin presenting, you can customize the best whiteboard backgrounds for you. In the PowerPoint ribbon, click on the ClassPoint tab. Then find the Whiteboard Backgrounds button. Here, you can customize up to 6 different whiteboard backgrounds. These are the slides that will be inserted into your presentation when you want more room to explain a topic or answer a student’s question.
ClassPoint offers 3 present backgrounds (ruled paper, whiteboard, blackboard), but you can change any of the preset backgrounds with an image on file or your current slide. There are many ways you can use the whiteboards by customizing them. We have some example ideas here from teachers themselves you can check out! In addition, you can change any of the pen colors on the ClassPoint ribbon so that you have your favorite colors right on the ClassPoint toolbar during your lesson.
When all your settings are complete, and you are in presentation mode during class, you will have a the ClassPoint toolbar at your disposal, where you can click on the whiteboard icon whenever you want to add a whiteboard slide or need extra room for annotations. All the annotations will be saved so that you can have a record or share it with your students.
With ClassPoint, whiteboarding on the fly during a presentation couldn’t be easier. No need to abandon your presentation to use a physical or digital whiteboard elsewhere. You can present and pause to elaborate on a concept with a whiteboard in one place.
ClassPoint has a forever free version with a limit of 25 students per class and 5 interactive questions per file. For more participants, questions, and data integration, you can upgrade to Pro.
Are you looking for a collaboration tool? a brainstorming tool? A quick tool to use during your presentation? Hopefully after reading our highlighted and outlined features, you can better navigate which of these 5 digital whiteboard tools is best for your needs.
- Collaborate with Microsoft Whiteboard.
- Brainstorm with Miro.
- Record clips with Explain Everything.
- Shop at one stop with Whiteboard.chat.
- Whiteboard while presenting with ClassPoint.