Showing posts with label Online Whiteboards. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Online Whiteboards. Show all posts

Monday, October 25, 2021

BookWidgets - Create Unique Online Activities for Your Students

BookWidgets is a service for creating interactive online activities. It has been on my radar for a while and last week I finally gave it a try. I wish I had tried it sooner.

BookWidgets lets you create online interactive activities for your students to complete on any device. One of the best things about it is that it offers more than thirty question types that you can choose to insert into your activities. In other words, you can build in enough question variety and activity variety that students won’t get bored by just answering the same types of questions over and over.

Unique Online Activities
One of the first things I noticed when I started to create a BookWidgets activity is that there are some activity templates that I haven’t found in any similar platforms. A few that stand out include split whiteboards, split worksheets, and active plotting.

The split whiteboards template lets you create an activity in which students read text on one side of the screen and use freehand drawing and writing on the other side of the screen to answer questions. I can envision a lot of mathematics teachers using that option. The active plotting template is another that math teachers will like. It lets you create a graphing activity that your students complete online. The neat thing about it is that you can watch their work in real time. The split worksheets template, like the split whiteboard template, shows students text on one side of the screen and questions on the other side.

There are many other interesting templates and widgets that you can use in the creation of online activities for your students to complete via BookWidgets. There are templates for before and after comparisons, templates for adding interactive markers to images, and templates for showing a sequence of animation and video frames.

My screenshot below shows you some of the many types of templates that you can use to create online activities in BookWidgets.



View Progress in Realtime!
The little camera icon next to a BookWidgets template title indicates that you can view your students’ progress in realtime. The little checkbox icon identifies templates that can be used to create activities that can be automatically scored for you.

Getting Started
Like any good educational technology service, BookWidgets provides a comprehensive set of tutorials for first-time users. But as I do whenever I try a new service, I skipped the tutorials and dove right into making an activity. I recommend doing the same as I think it’s the best way to discover how a tool will really work for you.

When you first sign into your BookWidgets account you’ll be taken to your teacher dashboard. There you’ll see a home button on the left-hand side of the screen. That’s where you’ll also find a “My Widgets” box where you can then click to create your first widget (I’d call widgets “activities” if I was in charge of naming things). When you click “create a widget” you’ll then see a menu of more than thirty widget types including the aforementioned split whiteboard widget and split worksheet widget.



Once you’ve selected a widget type you’re ready to start customizing it for your needs. The process of customizing a widget starts the same way regardless of which one you pick. You’ll give your widget a title, choose a background image (optional), and then select your sharing settings. From there your next steps are to add content to your widget. If you’re using one of the quiz or other assessment widgets you’ll write your questions and create an answer key (if you want it automatically scored). If you’re using the split whiteboard widget, you’ll enter text to prompt your students. Take a look at my screenshot below to see the split whiteboard widget in action.



As you can see in my screenshot above, the split whiteboard widget includes the option to use video as part of the prompt that students respond to on the whiteboard.

Assigning Activities and Viewing Progress
There are a few ways that you can distribute your BookWidget to students. The simplest way is to simply grab the unique link assigned to your widget and share it with your students wherever you normally share links. Another option is to import your Google Classroom roster and share your widgets as assignments in Google Classroom. It’s also possible to connect to Microsoft Teams, Moodle, Schoology, and Canvas. And if your students use tablets or phones in your classroom, you might want to use the QR code option to share activities with them.


Students can complete BookWidget activities in the web browser on any device. When they’ve completed the activity they’ll simply tap or click the envelope icon in the upper-right corner of the screen to submit the assignment. Students don’t need to have email addresses in order to complete BookWidget activities. Once they’ve submitted a completed activity, you can view your students’ responses by simply clicking the “Grades & Reporting” option in your teacher dashboard then clicking “student work” where you can then view individual work and score it. You can also view a summary of submissions in the “Grades & Reporting” field.

As I mentioned above, it is possible to see your students’ work in progress before they have submitted it for your review. To do that just connect your Google Classroom account and click on “Live” in your teacher dashboard to see which of your students are working on an activity and how much they’ve done.

Options for Every Teacher
I could probably write one thousand words just about the customization options available to teachers creating BookWidgets activities. Suffice it to say, there is something for everyone. You can format your text for left-to-right or right-to-left. You can choose from sixteen language options or add your own custom translation. Pages can be formatted in landscape or portrait mode.

More than thirty question types and response types are available to add to BookWidgets activities. In this blog post I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s available. Some of the other notable features include the ability to record audio responses to questions, annotate images and drawings as responses, take and or upload image responses, and a slew of matching and ordering question formats. Math and science teachers will be pleased to learn that BookWidgets even has tools for authoring questions with equations and for creating responses with equations.

Watch my short video below to learn how to create your first BookWidgets activity and see how your students will use it.

And for even more examples of using split worksheets and split whiteboards take a look at this example called Kung Fu Grasshoppers and this one of an online maze.



Disclosure: BookWidgets is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Kahoot Acquired Whiteboard.fi - What Could That Mean for You?

Last spring I got quite excited about a new online whiteboard tool called Whiteboard.fi. A lot of other people did, too. This blog post that I wrote about Whiteboard.fi had more than 100,000 hits! The success of Whiteboard.fi didn't go unnoticed by other educational technology companies as evidenced by the announcement that Kahoot has acquired Whiteboard.fi.

The announcement that Kahoot published was short on details on about what the acquisition of Whiteboard.fi means for both services going forward. Initially, it appears that Whiteboard.fi will continue to operate as normal. My guess is that Kahoot plans to integrate some or all of the functions into of Whiteboard.fi into the Kahoot game platform. 

If Kahoot were to integrate Whiteboard.fi into its game platform we could see options for teachers to use a whiteboard function to draw or write math problems and or diagrams. We could see options for students to reply to questions with free-hand drawings and writing on individual whiteboards. I'm curious to see what the engineers at Kahoot and Whiteboard.fi develop together for teachers and students. 

Here's a short video overview of how Whiteboard.fi works today. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Whiteboard.chat - Create Online Whiteboards You Can Share and Monitor

Back in September I wrote a review of a new online whiteboard tool called Whiteboard.chat. I like it because it allows teachers to create whiteboards for their students. Teachers can then remotely monitor the whiteboards to see what their students are doing on those whiteboards. It's great for doing things like asking students to solve a math problem and then watch as students work out the solutions on their whiteboards.

Since my initial review of Whiteboard.chat back in September, the folks behind the service have been steadily adding more features to the service. Some of those new features include:

  • More background choices including options for sheet music, lined paper, and graphing paper. 
  • New symbols and clipart including cute alphabet animals. 
  • Templates for flowcharts and mind maps. 
  • Virtual math manipulatives.
  • Recording audio and video notes to add to whiteboards.
  • Inclusion of Microsoft's Immersive Reader to provide read-aloud capabilities. 
Just as before, Whiteboard.chat can be used by you and your students without having to register or sign into an account. You can learn more about how Whiteboard.chat works, including the teacher and student views in my new video about the service. 



See my earlier review of Whiteboard.chat in this video.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Lucidspark - A New Collaborative Online Whiteboard Option

Lucidspark is a new collaborative whiteboard tool from the makers of the popular Lucidchart service. Lucidspark has all of the features that we've come to expect in an online whiteboard tool. It contains tools for placing pre-made shapes, drawing with a pen tool, and adding text to the screen. There is a wide array of color options for all of the elements that you add to your whiteboard in Lucidspark. 

There are two elements of Lucidspark that differentiate it from some of its competitors. First, Lucidspark offers a large gallery of templates that you can apply to your whiteboard. That gallery includes templates for things like concept maps, flowcharts, empathy maps, and story maps. The sharing menu is the other area in which Lucidspark separates itself from some of its competitors. The sharing options in Lucidspark will remind many people of the options found in Google Docs. You can share your Lucidspark pages as "view only," "comment only," and "edit." You can send collaboration invitations via email or by simply posting a link in your LMS. 

Here's a video overview of Lucidspark. 



Applications for Education
Lucidspark, like many other online whiteboard tools, could be a useful tool for teachers conducting live online or hybrid classes. Much like using Jamboard instead of Zoom's whiteboard tool, using Lucidspark when you need to sketch a concept map or illustrate a point enables you to share that sketch later and use it in other places independently of Zoom (or Google Meet or Microsoft Teams).