Online whiteboards can be an excellent tool to utilize as you navigate virtual and hybrid classrooms. They are interactive learning spaces that can be accessed from almost anywhere, whether on the computer, tablet, or even smart phone. Instructors need only share the board with their students, and everyone instantly has a real time display of notes, concepts, and other materials as they are shared. What’s more, many online whiteboard options allow you to save and/or download boards, providing additional study materials for your students to access during the course.
However, no two online whiteboard programs are totally alike, whether in functionality or price. Since there are so many options to sort through, we’ve stepped in and done some research on our own! Below are 5 free online whiteboard options that you can try with your classes.
Canvas is a great free option for those with a Google account. This Chrome application give you many customization options to expertly illustrate course concepts, even allowing you to upload images that you can then mark up during class time. Additionally, you can download boards (“drawings”) as images to pass along to students for use as study aids. If you’re looking for a basic online whiteboard option, give it a try!
Jamboard is another Google application with a ton of features, including the ability to share boards with other Google accounts for real time collaboration! It’s completely free, and within the application, you can add sticky notes, text, images, doodles, and even utilize a laser pointer feature. This application is highly interactive, allowing you to add students to boards for more hands-on learning activities. Alternatively, you could choose to keep the board private and mark it up via a Zoom screenshare during class time, emailing PDF versions of that board to students for their reference. It is a truly customizable, versatile option to explore.
*While Google does offer a physical, cloud-powered Jamboard hardware, you do not need to purchase it to use the application. The only features you lose with the application alone are handwriting and shape recognition.
WhiteboardFox is a free online whiteboard tool that enables you to collaborate with others on the same board by simply sharing that whiteboard’s link via email. No account setup is needed; once you have the link, you may add to the board in real time. You can add text and images to the board, draw on it, and take screenshots of it, making it another good option for hands-on learning. While not as in-depth as some of the other options listed, its features certainly add to the virtual learning environment! Try it out.
OpenBoard is a free, downloadable whiteboard software available for Windows, Mac and Linux. It works well on computers and smart phones, but it really shines on tablets. When writing in the software using your stylus, it is sensitive to the pressure applied to the screen, producing thinner and thicker lines depending on the force behind your writing. The program, when opened, does not need to be used exclusively within the bounds of your specific whiteboard—you can annotate other windows, too, using the tools at your disposal. If you want to share whiteboards with students, simply export it as a PNG file. These abilities and more make the software a standout worth exploring!
Note.ly is a free virtual note platform, meaning that is it not a full-on whiteboard, but it certainly deserves a place on this list! This collaborative tool can be used to take polls, outline ideas, and provide a brainstorm space. Instructors can make their wall public and provide students with a link that gives them access to it. A solid supplemental tool that can make online learning more organized with to-do lists and outlines. Check it out!
Do you have another preferred tool? Let us know in the comments!