Are you a teacher looking for a free, online whiteboard? Tired of trying out all the different whiteboards to find the best fit? This article is for you!
As we begin adapting our teaching and learning practices online, some needs are just best met by methods that we have always known and used. For one, the whiteboard is a feature that has never ceased to be important for both teachers and students. A proper space to visualise concepts and openly discuss ideas is a great way to learn, and can also make lessons more interesting and engaging. Hence, we’ve put together a list of free, online whiteboard software that can help you take your teaching to where you want it to be and maximise your students’ potential.
1. AWW APP
A Web Whiteboard (AWW) App is a free browser whiteboard app. It is touch-friendly, making it ideal for drawing especially on touch-screen devices. AWW App has an intuitive interface with the tools tab on the left hand side, and the controls on the right hand side. Tools available include the basic markers, erasers, and a sticky note function. AWW App also allows you to zoom in and out or to pan across your whiteboard, freely navigating the space throughout lesson time. AWW App is convenient as it does not require any downloading or installation to use, and you can simply create a new whiteboard and share the link with your students.
However, after the lesson is completed, the free version only allows you to export your notes with an AWW watermark that cannot be removed, meaning that materials created during class cannot double as customised notes for each class of students. Alternative methods include taking screenshots of your whiteboard, which is time consuming. Furthermore, the free version does not allow you to manage your participants, posing a potential threat to class progress as just about any student can hijack their classmates’ work by erasing or drawing on the whiteboard. In order to enjoy other premium features on AWW App, you will need to create an account starting from $10/month. The free premium trial only lasts for 14 days. Demonstrations on how to use AWW App’s functions can be found on their Youtube channel.
Whiteboard.fi is an online whiteboard created by a teacher turned developer to mimic the mini whiteboard individual students used to have in physical classes. On Whiteboard.fi, your students can draw on their own individual whiteboard, which only you (the teacher) will be able to see. This feature can allow even the most shy and self-conscious of students to participate in class without the unwanted attention from other classmates. By posing questions on your whiteboard, you will be able to check every single student’s understanding of class contents.
However, a crucial shortfall is the lack of human touch. On Whiteboard.fi, you will not be able to see or hear your student and vice versa. This may prevent you from accurately assessing their level of interest and engagement as the class is being conducted, limiting your ability to dynamically adapt to your students’ needs, unless you complement Whiteboard.fi with another video-conferencing app. The use of 2 applications concurrently might make online learning less seamless.
Designed with collaborative work in mind, Limnu’s selling feature is its name-pinning function. On Limnu’s whiteboard, you can pin names to specific parts of the whiteboard, allowing you to direct each student’s or each group of students’ attention to specific places on the board. This can help incorporate group work exercises into your lesson, and more importantly, allow you to cater to each individual student, providing everyone a level of attention that might not have been possible in a physical classroom.
However, Limnu only provides users with one page, which means that different students will have to work on different assignments all on the same page. This might be distracting for some students, which is not conducive for individual learning and growth. Similar to other free online whiteboard software, the free version also does not allow you to save your work. To access other functions, you may need to opt for a paid plan (free access to limnu only lasts for 14 days). You can check out its demonstration on Youtube here.
Downloadable from the Microsoft Store, this is a handy tool for any teacher who is already teaching online using an Office 365 account as it easily integrates with and complements other Office 365 softwares for online classes such as Microsoft teams for video-conferencing.
However, Microsoft Whiteboard is clearly only for those who may already have an Office 365 account. Microsoft Whiteboard might not be the most convenient and accessible option for every student in your class. Furthermore, the downloading process for this App might be confusing and inaccessible for students as the Whiteboard App can only be downloaded through the Windows Store instead of the Office 365 portal. Additional steps are also needed to enable the application before use, which means that Microsoft Whiteboard is not your fastest solution to jotting down any spontaneous class discussions.
Screenshot of HeyHi’s online whiteboard
Now that you are aware of 4 conventional free online whiteboards, it is our pleasure to introduce HeyHi, a unique online whiteboard software that can function as an independent teaching tool, or used alongside other video-conferencing apps. HeyHi is free to download and the free version allows users to set up online classes for up to four participants; ideal for in-depth, small group consultations. For larger groups, you can organise webinars for up to 100 participants.
Designed for effective teaching and learning, HeyHi is an online Whiteboard that allows teachers to organise virtual classes centred around a shareable whiteboard. What we think is a simple classroom furniture actually does much more. The process that teachers and students go through to pen down their thoughts and ideas has been shown to boost knowledge retention in students. As we move to online learning, it is all the more important that we preserve this quintessential feature and even increase its efficiency. HeyHi whiteboard does exactly that and more. Not only does it function like a traditional whiteboard, it also has additional features to enhance your teaching.
For instance, HeyHi’s whiteboard is expandable, which gives you the freedom to create more space for your notes, as and when you need it. Teachers can simply swipe to shift to another section of the whiteboard, or zoom out; all without the need to erase whatever that has been written. Coupled with HeyHi Whiteboard’s function of downloading all notes written on the whiteboard, it is now highly feasible to keep a quality record of the class’ progress, allowing students to easily use these materials for future references.
User shifts to another section of HeyHi’s online whiteboard to continue writing. Gif created on imgPlay.
The key feature that differentiates HeyHi from other online whiteboard software is its pragmatic interface that was designed specifically with students in mind. Clean and intuitive, HeyHi Whiteboard’s interface helps students focus on class content. Immediately upon entering a lesson, students will see a gridded whiteboard that takes up the entire screen, while the faces of their teachers and peers are only on the right margin of the screen. This creates a more conducive learning environment where students are less likely to be distracted by the faces and videos of their peers and teachers. Additionally, such an interface also carefully balances and meets the need for human contact, making virtual classes more familiar and comfortable.
HeyHi’s online whiteboard. Photo by HeyHi.
Beyond creating a conducive and comfortable learning environment, HeyHi’s whiteboard also provides a space for collaboration. For instance, teachers will be able to upload images and files for group exercises, allowing students to work together to cross-check each other’s learning. This value-adds their online learning experience by imparting crucial soft-skills such as teamwork. Creativity can also be fostered through mind maps creating exercises, which is a tried-and-tested strategy that reliably enhances students’ learning by connecting concepts. HeyHi whiteboard helps you facilitate exactly this.
Now, enough about the students; the developers at HeyHi whiteboard have not forgotten about the teachers either. With the aim to reduce educators’ workload and stress, HeyHi whiteboard goes above and beyond to take care of your administrative matters. HeyHi’s online whiteboard’s in-built calendaring system helps you to stay on top of everything by automating the booking and scheduling process for consultations. Even during lessons, you do not need to constantly busy yourself with taking attendance as HeyHi has already done so for you. With all the time that is freed up, teachers can now offer more guidance to their students.
Left: Student books an online consult with the teacher. Gif created by the writer on imgPlay.
Right: Screenshot of HeyHi’s attendance taking tool.
With so many classes a day, it will definitely be challenging to keep a record of all that is said. Fortunately, online whiteboards provide teachers with the ability to save their materials for future references. The advantages of saving these materials also include allowing absent students to catch up on class materials, without the need for teachers to organise extra make-up lessons. While online whiteboard recording for HeyHi has not been implemented yet, you can easily solve this by recording your sessions with tools such as Loom, Panopto, and Quicktime (Here is an in-depth guide on how to create an online whiteboard recording and a useful list of six free software for recording video lectures).
Loom’s screen recording interface. Photo by Loom.
Rest assured that HeyHi is a safe learning space. Developers at HeyHi do not take security lightly and have thus made it mandatory on HeyHi Whiteboard that all online lessons are only accessible by a Meeting ID and access code. While troublesome, these regular reminders not to reuse existing sessions helps ensure the safety and security of users so that parents need not worry about their children being affected by hackers with malicious intent during class.
HeyHi online whiteboard is also useful even after the health pandemic as it can double as a useful video-production tool. By writing and illustrating their ideas, teachers can use HeyHi’s online whiteboard to pre-record educational videos which can then be easily shared with students to guide their revisions outside of both physical and virtual classrooms.
Last but not least, accessibility is still HeyHi Whiteboard’s most crucial feature. Accessible in browsers, you do not need any additional downloading or installing to start using HeyHi online whiteboard. Even then, should you prefer using an app, HeyHi’s application is also free for download in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Please refer to HeyHi’s pricing page for more information on the different subscription tiers.
As the learning and teaching environment evolve constantly, we hope that this curated list of free, online whiteboards has helped in providing you with some insightful suggestions, especially if you are a fellow educator looking for more viable, affordable options. Among them, HeyHi’s online whiteboard is a one-stop software solution that truly makes online teaching easy, effective and engaging.