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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Seven Free Online Whiteboard Tools for Teachers and Students

This afternoon through the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page I received a request for some free whiteboard apps. All of the following seven tools can be used to draw and type on a whiteboard in your browser. With the exception of PixiClip all of these tools can be used collaboratively for brainstorming sessions. While PixiClip doesn't allow for collaboration it does have a voice-over capability.

Sketchlot is a free collaborative whiteboard service that works on any device that has a web browser. I tested it on my MacBook, my iPad, and my Android tablet. Sketchlot is designed for teacher and student use. Teachers create their own accounts and then inside that account they can create a list of students. Each student is assigned his or her own password to use to join a drawing shared by his or her teacher. Teachers can create as many drawings as they like and share them on an individual basis. Teachers can share their drawings to one or all of their students at a time. Students can create their own sketches to share back to their teachers through Sketchlot.

Aww App is a simple browser-based application for creating drawings. To get started just go to AwwApp.com and click on "start drawing."  To invite people to collaborate on your drawing just send them the link assigned to your drawing board and they can join in the drawing fun. Aww App will work in the browser on your laptop, Chromebook, Android tablet, and iPad. If you would like to use Aww App on your classroom or school website and you have familiarity with editing the code of your site, you can install Aww App for free.

PixiClip is a great new tool tool for creating, narrating, and sharing drawings. PixiClip provides a whiteboard space on which you can draw, upload images to mark-up, and type. While adding elements to your PixiClip whiteboard you can talk and or record a video of yourself talking. In fact, you can't use the whiteboard without at least recording your voice at the same time. Recordings can be shared via social media and or embedded into your blog posts. PixiClip does not require you to create an account in order to use the service. However, if you want to save your recording to re-visit and edit you will need to create an account. Accounts are free and take less than thirty seconds to create.

Stoodle is an online whiteboard service supported in part by the CK-12 Foundation. Through Stoodle you can quickly create a collaborative whiteboard space. On your whiteboard you can type, draw, and upload images. You can connect Stoodle to your computer's microphone and talk your collaborators while drawing, typing, or sharing images. Stoodle does not require you to create an account. To create a Stoodle whiteboard space just click "launch a classroom," name your room, and share the URL assigned to your room.

Draw It Live is a nice little website that offers a free space for you to instantly create a collaborative whiteboard to use with anyone you like. To use Draw It Live just go to the site, click the "collaborative whiteboard" link, enter any nickname you want, then start drawing. You can invite people to draw with you by sending them the url assigned to your whiteboard. Draw It Live provides a chat box that you can use to talk to your collaborators about what each of you is doing on the screen.

FlockDraw is a simple service that allows people to quickly and easily collaborate on the creation of a drawing. To use FlockDraw simply visit the site, click the "start drawing" button, and start drawing. To invite other people to draw with you, just send them the url assigned to your drawing board. What's really neat is that anyone who visits the url after the drawing has started will see all of the drawing motions they missed unfold in front of them. You can embed your FlockDraw drawings into a website.

Realtime Board is a nice tool for hosting online, collaborative brainstorming sessions. I've featured the service a couple of times since its launch last fall. The service allows to work with any information and visual content on one board individually or with the team. You can draw, work with images, post videos, post and mark PDFs, write notes, and comment on materials through the use of colorful post-it stickers. Realtime Board supports importing files from your Google Drive account. Realtime Board offers a free education version. The education version provides schools with all of the features of the Pro version for free. That means you can create unlimited private and public boards, have an unlimited number of collaborators, and 3GB of storage space.