Free Live Whiteboard iPad Apps
A review of free, or nearly free, iPad apps and tools that can be used as live whiteboards during a lecture, or as an asynchronous lecture recording tools.
Pros: It is free. There is an online account space to share any screen casted/video ‘lessons’ created. TONS of pen, highlighter and writing options, including changing line sizes. TONS of background options. Audio recording capabilities, if you want to record the live presentation, and/or want to make a ‘video lesson’. No account required to use it.
Cons: While you can export to PDF and/or by email, there are not social media sharing options (e.g. Facebook or Twitter). If you want to do a live presentation, you would either need an Apple TV, or have to run it via a computer to a projector (there are no online browser sharing options). There is no online account to save the recordings, so they have to be saved on the iPad, and over time that could take up limited iPad memory/space.
iTunes Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/doceri/id412443803?mt=8
Pros: It is free. No account or sign up requirements. Students don’t have to sign up for anything, they just share the whiteboard session link. It can be shared as a link to be viewed on multiple digital devices or in a browser. What you do on your iPad shows immediately for those viewing the link. Can save the work done as a pdf, photo, or email it. Can share to Facebook, Twitter and Campfire.
Cons: when you write on it horizontally on the iPad, it shows as ‘sideways’ on the online browser. Limited colors, pen and highlighter types.
People can view the whiteboard real-time at the special link it will give you to share: http://syncsp.com
Pros: Using the Jot Whiteboard you can show real time notes during a class. No account or sign up requirements. Students don’t have to sign up for anything, just share the whiteboard session name (which you create when you start it on your iPad). Can save the work done as a pdf, photo or email is.
Cons: If you want is to sync and show real-time for any digital device browser, you have to buy the 4.99 app instead of the free app, as the free app doesn’t allow the live online/browser sharing option. Limited colors, pen and highlighter types.
iTunes store (free version): https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/jot!-whiteboard-free/id371937922?mt=8
Online whiteboard space (only usable with the 4.99 paid app): http://www.jotwithme.com/
Screen-recording Lecture Tools
Note, these whiteboards that are NOT real-time unless you have an Apple TV, but do allow you to record the whiteboard space to then share with students as ‘lessons’:
Pros: It is free. It has audio recording capabilities. That is a major ‘pro’ in my view. Can add photos. Can share at the website or on Facebook and Twitter.
Cons: No real-time sharing. Requires an online account at their site to share. Limited colors, pen and highlighter types. Limited sharing options. Limited background options.
Website (account space): http://www.showme.com
Pros: It is free. It has audio recording capabilities as well as ShowMe. Flexible background options, from different ‘paper’ types to photos. Can share at the ScreenChomp website or on Facebook (nothing else). No required accounts for the teacher or the students. Don't let the 'green-schmoo' scare you off, this tool is quick and easy to use.
Cons: No real-time sharing. Limited colors, pen and highlighter types. Limited sharing options. You don’t have the option for an account, so there is no way to organize extended ‘lessons’ online. You can, however, get the links from within the iPad app and then share those links.
Pros: It is free. A variety of media options, including adding photos and then drawing on them and making notes, including text boxes or freestyle. Can also change the type of paper (e.g. graph vs. lined).
Cons: No real-time sharing. There doesn’t seem to be any audio recording capabilities, which is a serious drawback. Limited colors, pen and highlighter types.
Website (account space): http://www.educreations.com
Conclusions & Recommendations
That depends on the use. As I always say, there is no one-size-fits-all tool for anything. Only the right tool for the right use, in the right context, for the right people and the right situation. You get the idea.
How would I use them?
For an all-inclusive ‘video lesson’ tool, I would choose Doceri, which does have far more writing tools than any of the others. BUT, it doesn’t allow you to store your items online at an account. I could not even figure out how to at least upload to Dropbox, and I don’t want a lot of large ‘lesson videos’ taking up space on my iPad. But, it had, without a doubt, better tools than ShowMe, ScreenChomp, and EduCreations.
If I want a live whiteboard, it depends on the context. If I will have an Apple TV to share my iPad screen, then probably any of these would work, so then I might choose one based on if I wanted all the freestyle writing tools (Doceri beats them all far and above), or if I wanted to be able to type (textbox option), which only Syncspace, JotSpace and EduCreations have.
Finally, if I wanted my students to be able to view the whiteboard, real-time, live, on their own computers, iPads or mobile devices, then I would have to use Syncspace or JotSpace, which were the only two options that would do that.
(!!) The downside to ALL of these tools was the absence of sticky notes, little interactivity other than sharing or showing, and no mind-mapping options.
Classroom Management Tips
By using the Guide Access instructions to lock down the iPad, you can force the students to only view what you want them to. Some teachers use that to force them to view their live whiteboard, thus being sure the students will pay attention (as much as is possible). At least the student cannot leave and go play a video game instead.
Other teachers like to use these 'live' whiteboard options through the Apple TV projection in their classroom, this then allows them to walk around the room as they are working and teaching. This can help to reduce student behavior issues, and keep students on track since the teacher is walking among them as they lecture or show a lesson.