I think everyone agrees that today’s world and even more so the world in five or ten years time is getting increasingly smaller. Technology and the Internet has bridged gaps between distant families through video conferencing who can now talk and see each other on the screen.
The same is true for classrooms. Projects like “Skype in the classroom” or the “Skype an Author Network” connect classrooms across the world and let them learn from and with each other. It’s a great way to prepare children for global citizenship in a world that is becoming more and more connected each day.
Today I would like to share two collaborative whiteboards which can add yet another layer to the connected experience. With these tools students can actually take exercises and quizzes or play simple games on one shared whiteboard.
Scribblar is a great tool when you want to set up a collaborative space in a couple of seconds. You don’t need to sign up for an account or share any personal details to try it out. Just go to scribblar.com, click on the free demo button and you are up and running.
Scribblar has all the features you would expect from an online interactive whiteboard or virtual classroom. You can upload documents or pictures, draw on the whiteboard, use a text chat or the inbuilt audio feature.
Two very neat features of the Scribblar whiteboard are an equation editor and the ability to easily add information from the Wolfram Alpha search engine. And when you decide to sign up for a free account, you can also add your Skype address to the whiteboard which then lets you use Skype as audio bridge.
All in all, Scribblar is a very robust and feature-rich collaborative whiteboard which can be set up quite spontaneously allowing a lot of flexibility when having Skype sessions with another class or a guest in the classroom.
The second tool, Conceptboard, also offers you a full-blown online collaboration space but it also adds some extra features for educators to the mix.
First of all, Conceptboard is device agnostic and works in any modern web browser, on a Windows machine or Mac OSX. The service also works on the iPad which cuts down on a lot of potential friction in setting up an online meeting.
Another great feature of Conceptboard is the option to directly comment and discuss on the whiteboard. The participants can add their profile picture which makes it a bit like Facebook comments which is of course a favorite place of today’s students.
Conceptboard also features an integrated voice and video chat, so no extra software such as Skype is needed.
And Conceptboard also offers special features and tools for education. For example, teachers can hand out a registration code and students are then able to set up accounts on their own. Presentations can then become interactive, as students who set up their account can annotate and collaborate in real time, again also with the possibility to connect students at home or in other countries.
While the basic version of Conceptboard is free, you can give it a try without any risk, the paid versions start at $49 per teacher per year.
Did you already use Skype or other VoIP services to connect your classroom with another one? How did it work, will you do it again and can you imagine to use one of the tools above to interact with each other?
Image courtesy of Flickr, breahn