The whiteboard is the teacher’s quintessential tool of the trade. It is the centerpiece of any physical classroom, a visual and mnemonic aid that helps students structure, understand, and retain new knowledge and concepts. Unsurprisingly, it is the first classroom tool teachers look for when setting up a virtual classroom. So, we researched the topic and compiled a list of the best online whiteboard for teaching apps, both free and paid.
- What is an online whiteboard and why it’s necessary for remote teaching?
- 2 completely free online whiteboard apps for teaching
- 5 best paid online whiteboard apps for teaching
- Kaltura Whiteboard feature
What Is An Online Whiteboard And Why It’s Necessary For Remote Teaching?
An online whiteboard is an app or browser-based interactive tool that allows teachers and students to collaborate remotely and in real-time through writing, drawing, and pinning images. Online or web-based whiteboards are made to look and behave like a physical whiteboard and are widely used in online meetings and virtual classrooms.
Just like a real-life whiteboard, an interactive whiteboard is an excellent tool to
- illustrate points
- write down key information
- structure topics of discussion
- complete tasks or exercises
- create mind maps
- and collaborate
An online whiteboard is simple, versatile, participative, and cost-effective. It’s also highly engaging and visual making it an essential tool for online instruction and collaboration. So, if you are serious about remote teaching, here are the best free and paid online whiteboards for teaching.
Free vs. paid online whiteboards for teaching
So why pay for an online whiteboard if you have free options? The free online whiteboards will usually give you all the essential tools you need to get teaching right away. You’ll get access to pens and shapes of various thicknesses and colors and some options like Google’s Jamboard will throw sticky notes and virtual laser pens into the mix.
But, as we all got used to in this age of apps and web-based products, freemium plans come with tradeoffs and a host of missing features. Free online whiteboard apps often come with ads or watermarks and lack key features such as pdf or media uploads, permission management, as well as essential download or save options. Almost all free options cap off the number of whiteboards you can create, as well as the number of objects you can include on a whiteboard and the number of viewers per whiteboard.
If you opt for a free online whiteboard, then make sure none of these limitations is a showstopper for how you plan to apply it in your classroom. We’ll do our best to mention which key features have been omitted. We divided our list into two sections. The two apps in the first section, Canvas for Chrome and Google Jamboard, are completely free. The second section contains the 5 best paid options, but they all offer a freemium plan as well.
2 Completely FREE Online Whiteboard Apps for Teaching
Canvas for Chrome
Canvas for Chrome is a barebones, no-frills application. And you’ll notice that as soon as you enter the online platform. There’s no signing in, no entering details. You get straight to your board. Canvas features 5 pens for which you can customize the color, size, and opacity. That’s it. No typewriting, no option to upload files. The only somewhat advanced feature is the ability of working with layers. Canvas for Chrome does offer the option to save your whiteboard in the app, save as image, and share. If this is all you need, then Canvas for Chrome is a great and easy-to-use option.
If you have a Google account (and we all do) then Jamboard is just as accessible as Canvas, but offers vastly more options. Hit the big + button at the bottom of the screen to open your first whiteboard. Jamboard offers a variety of pens, an eraser, a selection tool, sticky notes, image import, shapes, text boxes, and a flashy laser pen tool. You can also customize your background and create a series of whiteboards between which you can easily switch back and forth. Jamboard lets you save your boards to your Google account, save as image, download as pdf, or conveniently export your whiteboard to meetings scheduled in Google Calendar.
5 Best PAID Online Whiteboard Apps for Teaching
Kaltura virtual Classroom engages millions of students worldwide with video-first learning experiences every day. Odd one out in this list, Kaltura is not a standalone whiteboard app but a comprehensive A to Z online teaching solution with a powerful integrated whiteboard feature, which we personally believe is the best on this list. So, if you are in the market for a remote teaching platform with a collaborative whiteboard among its many teaching and learning features, then look no further.
We’ll go further into detail about Kaltura Virtual Classroom’s whiteboard feature in the next section. But we can already reveal that Kaltura Virtual Classroom comes with a 30-day free trial so you can try the whole platform, including the whiteboard, for yourself without committing just yet. After that, the pricing compared to other solutions is very competitive, considering you don’t just get a whiteboard app, but a robust all-in-one remote teaching solution.
Miro (previously AWW App) is a collaborative whiteboard app that mostly caters to online meetings but translates to the virtual classroom as well. You get all the basic features you would expect, such as pens, erasers, text boxes, and shapes. The good thing about this app is that your students can collaborate on this board in real-time. The free plan includes up to 3 editable boards, premade templates, core integrations, and basic attention management. Other caveats: your board disappears after a period of inactivity and the app is currently not available on mobile devices.
With Whiteboard.fi you let your students join, using a link, room code, or QR code. Students get their individual whiteboard on which they can draw, write, add images or math equations, and more. The students can see your whiteboard, but they cannot see each other’s whiteboards. Whiteboard.fi is part of Kahoot.it so it shares that same fun look and tone. The free plan does come with ads and lacks important features like file uploads and the option to prepare, save, and reuse whiteboards. You can opt for a 14-day free trial that gives you access to the full-optioned Premium plan.
Ziteboard is an online whiteboard with real-time team collaboration that works on any device. It comes with all the usual features, plus sticky notes, a board chat, pdf import, interactive graphing calculator, white-label service, and an anonymous whiteboard extension to the Pro plan that lets you invite students without them needing to sign up/in. The free plan limits your use to 3 boards, limited data traffic, 3 basic colors, low-resolution image upload, while pdf uploads are limited to the first page only. Chat functions are also unavailable to free plan users. You do get sticky notes and PNG, SVG, and PDF export.
Is a feature-rich whiteboard app that has all the features you would expect, plus some fun and useful additions like math equations, a dice, a pointer, animation, and other so-called gizmos and widgets. Up to 100 students can join your board and get their own board as well. The free plan for Whiteboard.chat is rather limited. You can create up to 10 boards, which will be deleted automatically after 7 days (though you can manually refresh them to delay this). The free plan also displays ads, but only to the teacher, which makes it more acceptable. You can use the free plan immediately, without signup.
Kaltura’s Whiteboard feature
As we said earlier, Kaltura Virtual Classroom is an all-in-one remote teaching solution, so Kaltura’s whiteboard feature comes integrated into a complete teaching suite with video conferencing, screen sharing, chat, media playlists, participant management and moderator controls, breakout rooms, quick polls and quizzes, shared notes, and so much more.
Kaltura’s digital whiteboard comes with a set of pens (customizable color and thickness), an eraser, text boxes, image upload, and shapes. You can also use a laser pointer to help focus on specific areas of your board. You can create up to 50 boards with a simple click and easily jump from one board to another. You can move objects around on the whiteboard and see who the author is. You can easily export and import your whiteboards and they are automatically saved for your use in upcoming sessions. You can see the Kaltura digital whiteboard in action in the video below, or you can start your free trial and try the whiteboard for yourself. Have fun with it!