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6 Free Online Collaborative Interactive White Boards – 2012 Update

3 of the original apps from our April 2010 post are no longer available, but here's 4 more free online IWBs to check out, and they're all collaborative!

The original April 2010 article, “6 Free Online Interactive White Boards [1]” and the more recent “Using The iPad As A Digital Whiteboard (Plus 4 Cool Free Apps To Try It Out) [2]” have been consistent top 10 pages for viewership here on EmergingEdTech since they were published. Between them, they've had over 55,000 views to date. There is obviously a good deal of interest in free Interactive White Board apps. Unfortunately, several of the tools cited in the first post are no longer online, but there are some other great free digital IWBs that readers provided information about, so it's time for an updated post.

Free Online Collaborative Interactive White Board Apps Logos Pic [3]

I spent some time with each of the remaining functional tools from the April Post. My two favorites from that review, Dabbleboard and ImaginationCubed, as well as Writeboard.com, have all been taken off line. The good news is that I checked out the applications suggested by readers who commented on the original post and four of them have plenty to offer. These apps provide some powerful functionality for free, and each allows for collaborative editing of the white board!

Here is a brief review of these four newly listed free online IWBs, followed by some updated information on three applications from the original article that are still available online today:

Twiddla (http://www.twiddla.com [4]): Inviting others to collaborate on Twiddla was quick and easy – just hit the green GO button to start a session and use the Invite option (towards the upper right hand corner of the screen). This app provides a great set of tools. You can easily add an image, web page, or document as a background to markup. There is a color palette tool, pen width tool, a shapes tool, and text can be inserted. There is even a “browse” option so that links in your background image can be clicked on, which was pretty unique. Not only is there a chat option built in, but there's even free audio conferencing capability! Twiddla is very impressive and belongs at the top of the list of apps to consider if you need a tool like this.

Vyew.com (http://vyew.com [5]): If you click on the TAKE A TEST DRIVE button, a whiteboard session will open where you can invite others, make notations, etc. I set my screen name and used the INVITE function (in the upper left hand corner of the screen), which allows you to set time limits on how long someone can collaborate with you, and choose between 4 roles for them – Viewer, Reviewer, Collaborator, or Moderator. You have to provide a name and email address of your own in order to be able to invite others to collaborate. It took a little while for the session to start on the computer where I opened the invite, but then it worked fine. You can create multiple boards within a session, and there is a great set of tools for varying colors, widths, and styles of ‘pencil', adding shapes or text, editing what you've drawn, and more. This is a powerful tool and one worth considering if you're in need of an interactive, collaborative white board tool.

Megascopes' Whiteboard (http://whiteboard.megascopes.com [6]): Megascopes.com is a unique site that is all about the exchange of ideas. There is much more to it than just this whiteboard application (but that's the focus of this post so that's what is discussed here). When you open the whiteboard application, click on the “Request a private session” link (under where it says “Session: public [2]” in big letters). This will open a private session, where you will now see a link (where the “Request a private session” link had been) that can be emailed to someone that you wish to collaborate with. I tested it and it was simple and fast. This is a simple whiteboard providing a pencil with different colors and widths and an eraser and not much more, but it is easy to use and does not require users to create an account. There is some additional functionality associated with the whiteboard (the ‘persist' and ‘post' features for example) that are worth investigating further if you are considering using the tool frequently.

Groupboard (http://www.groupboard.com [7]): Groupboard offers a wide range of functionality, including free use by clicking here [8] (you need the right version of Java or html5/ajax installed, I apparently did not, and chose not to pursue this further). Groupboard struck me as being geared more strongly towards paid use, with the free option more of a tempter than something you would want to use regularly. One significant feature of Groupboard is the ability to embed your board in other apps, including smart phones and tablets (one part of the front page says it works with the iPad, iPhone, and Android with no plug-ins required, but then there are buttons to download the app from the Apple Store of Google Play, which seemed contradictory). A scan of the other levels of application functionality on the front page make Groupboard appear worthy of further consideration if you want to get more advanced and scale up use of a tool like this over time.

These are three apps from the original review that are still available online:

Scribblar (http://scribblar.com [9]): Scribblar is a nice tool for collaborating. You do need to sign up in order to use it. You can easily invite others to participate, and there are plenty of useful tools for drawing and editing. You can also chat or use voice to communicate with each other. You can save images (use the Snapshot icon, which will save images to the Assets pane, from which they can be downloaded). Scribblar is another good free collaborative IWB to check out.

Skrbl (http://www.skrbl.com [10]): Skrbl is surprisingly still in beta (its been about two and half years since the first review). The free version does not allow for collaboration, but they do now have a team version available for $10/month. One has to wonder though, why bother when the tools above provide this sort of functionality for free?

ScribLink (http://www.scriblink.com [11]): When I went to run Scriblink, it gave a notice that Java 1.5 was required, and that a corporate firewall might be blocking it. I assume it is still functional and that I could probably get it to wor, but with good options like those above available, I wasn't compelled to put much more effort into it. I did have various issues with it when I tried it in 2010, and came away feeling uncomfortable recommending it (if anyone uses this app and can advise otherwise, please comment.)

I strongly recommend Twiddla and Vyew, and suggest considering Megascope's Whiteboard, Groupboard, or Scribblar if neither Twiddla or Vyew meet your requirements.

If you a are interested in free white board apps for the iPad, be sure to check out, “Using The iPad As A Digital Whiteboard (Plus 4 Cool Free Apps To Try It Out) [2]“.

As always, if you know of other free IWB tools or apps, or have experiences you would like to share about using any of the above mentioned tools, please feel free to comment and share!

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Apple TV In The Classroom – The New Smart Board [12]
10 Emerging Education and Instructional Technologies that all Educators Should Know About (2012) [13]
Using The iPad As A Digital Whiteboard (Plus 4 Cool Free Apps To Try It Out) [2]