Even If You Hate Interactive Whiteboards You'll Love #Jamboard

Even If You Hate Interactive Whiteboards You'll Love #Jamboard

I’ve written more than a dozen articles sharing why I hate interactive whiteboards. So I was a little surprised, that when I saw Google’s Jamboard, I liked it.

Here's why.

To understand why, we have to start with what I hate about the interactive whiteboard design. What I hate is that the board is really designed to be interactive only for the sage(s) on the stage. So, while it is “interactive,” it is NOT collaborative. I’m not saying it’s impossible to collaborate with an interactive whiteboard, but the form was not designed for that function.

The Jamboard is interactive, but it is not focused on being an “interactive” whiteboard and that’s a good thing.

Why I like the Jamboard is because it is focused on being a “collaboration" tool.

That shift in thinking and design makes a big difference.

Rather than being it’s own special software, the board is designed to integrate with the G-Suite. If you care about collaboration you use Google cloud-based tools and that means this board is intuitive.

Whether it’s doc, sheet, slide, or draw, you can use the input panel on the Jamboard to share your Jam and add collaborators. This is one of the beauties of the board. It is designed with collaboration in mind, so while there is a board sitting in a room, the people contributing to it can be doing so from anywhere in the world using (you guessed it) Google hangouts for meetings. There's a camera right inside the board. When you have meetings, that often means there are slides. Those slides can be embedded right inside the whiteboard. Just bring in your deck and show it. You can do the same with docs and sheets. Pull them up and start collaborating.

The power of this is that unlike the competitors, you use the tools you already use for presenting and collaborating right on the board, which also serves as a great space for whiteboarding. Run out of space, you just swipe to get more. When you’re done, no need to take a photo. All collaborators can save it to their drive.

The platform design in essence is a platform that let's you bring in and use all the tools that you and your students already use, rather than the platform being what you use to present as it is with brands like Smart and Promethean.

As a whiteboard, simplicity is key. There is no latency when writing, and when you erase you see little specs of ink flake away. The pens just work with the color you choose on the palette. What's more, all the cool things you might use to whiteboard are just there digitally. There's post it's, pens, highlighters. You can talk about something, search it, and embed it into the board. Grabbing images is a snap and the ones you can grab are labeled for reuse. You can drag, drop, and move around what you've written. Whiteboarding notes can be come useful infographical-type notes, think sketch-notes, much more easily than without the device.

This is a board made for business and made for the classroom. No complicated software to learn. No sage on the stage required. It’s simple. It’s collaborative. It’s ready to go.

It’s the first board I would actually use if given the choice.

You can see it in action in this video.


Well the price structure.

While the board is competitively priced coming in just under 5k, there's a pesky $600 a year management and support fee. This is something that simply can not be easily integrated into most school systems today. Right now that doesn’t matter as the board is available solely for business and it seems the demand outweighs the supply. When things settle, and if Google can figure this out (maybe bundle with a Chromebook cart support package?), the Jamboard, has the chops to be the next device in Google's success in taking over classroom whiteboards the same way Chromebooks has disrupted the student devices market and G-Suite the software market.

Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.

Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.

Lisa Nielsen (@InnovativeEdu) has worked as a public-school educator and administrator since 1997. She is a prolific writer best known for her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator. Nielsen is the author of several books and her writing has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Tech & Learning.  

Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.