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Using The iPad As A Digital Whiteboard (Plus 4 Cool Free Apps To Try It Out)


There are some nice free Digital Whiteboards apps available for the iPad. Free rocks.

I found myself wondering how the iPad might work as a Digital Whiteboard, to project, as well as to use collaboratively. I also wondered if there might be some free apps that provide this kind of functionality (there are so many decent free apps for the iPad).

First step, hit the App Store and search for “whiteboard”. I narrowed the search down by selecting Price = “Free” and Customer Rating = “4+ Stars” and found 8 apps. I downloaded each one and spent a little time with them. Four of these apps were pretty cool and definitely worth sharing. The others had drawbacks that led me to eliminate them from further consideration.  

Four recommended free digitial white board apps:

This TechSmith app was rated (an average of) 4.5 by hundreds of users. ScreenChomp provides 9 colors but just one pen size. You can import pictures to use as your background. Mostly importantly, you can record your whiteboard session for play back, and the recording will include audio. Recordings can be saved to the ScreenChomps app, and can be shared via email, Facebook, Twitter, and accessed through a URL.

This app is a great example of combining a few simple features to make a tool that is very useful. Here's an example ScreenChomp video I created: http://www.screenchomp.com/t/Z2xnmkfS.

ZigZag Board
ZigZag Board had one unique offering among the free tools I looked at, which is the ability to select and resize things you draw (as well as move or delete them). It is similar to some of the other apps in that it has a small selection of pen colors and the ability to adjust the thickness of the pen (but no ability to pull a pic to draw on). ZigZag also allows users to have a “meeting” with the app. The meeting functionality was easy to use – I started a meeting from the iPad app and then joined on my laptop, but I was only able to view the whiteboard session there, I could not actually participate in it (not sure if this works differently when you join from an iPad, we had a network issue and couldn't connect from another iPad).

Unlike most of these other tools, Zig Zag requires the user to create an account. Once you sign up, there's a nice page-by-page tutorial on how to use the drawing tools and how multi-touch gestures work within the app.

SyncSpace allows for a choice of 9 colors, 4 pen thicknesses, and 2 pen styles (solid or dashed), which was more than the other apps provided. Two unique features the app has are its ability to scale the screen to any size (it seems that you can shrink or expand your whiteboard indefinitely), and its synchronize capability, which allows for true collaboration. My son and I tried this and it was easy and worked well. You can also export files as PDFs, post them to Facebook, Twitter, or Campfire (a collaboration app), or email a link to other iPad users.

One down side of SyncSpace is that it did not work in landscape (horizontal) mode, making it a little less ideal for projecting.

The Free version of Jot has a pretty nice set of functionality including: 4 colors and 4 pen sizes, the ability to move a drawing and to add a background, and to add text. You share your drawings via email or save them as a photo. There's a premium app available for $4.99 that provides more colors, more line widths, 5 fonts to select from, and live sharing.

The other four apps shown in the search results I eliminated for the following reasons:

  • Show Me Interactive Whiteboard: Show Me seemed like ScreenChomp without the audio recording capability.
  • Doceri Remote: Required the installation of an additional application in order to use it, and it appeared that I would probably have to pay that app at some point.
  • Sign+: This should not have been in the list as it for creating a “digital sign”, and does not have the interactive nature of a true digital whiteboard.
  • SMART Bridgit Conferfence: This requires you to have a SMART board and applicable server in place.

iPads in Education Implementations Apps and Insights eBook graphic

Connecting the iPad to a projector or HD TV
This seems pretty straightforward if you have the right components. I can't wait to try this, and I'll be sure to share my results here.

If any readers have experience doing this, using these or similar apps, please tell us about it. I'm sure there are other decent free IWB-type apps for the iPad2 that I could have found by searching on different words or phrases, so if you know of any, please drop a comment and let us know about them. As always, questions or other comments are also welcomed!

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
10 Excellent iPad Applications for Teachers
iPads In Education – How’s It Going So Far?
Seton Hill University’s iPad rollout – more insights from a model implementation


  1. Hi Andrew – The short answer is probably “no’, but this post was written a long time ago (5 years is like, what … 20 in “tech years”?), so things have evolved considerably. That being said, in my experience most free screencasting apps for any platform generally do not have much editing functionality. Specific to the iPad, one approach I have come across from time to to time involves using ‘reflecting’ apps that let you cast your iPad on a Mac screen, then using Mac tools to cast/capture/edit, so that is worth looking into if you area Mac user. Screenchomp files can be pulled into Camstasia (on either Windows or Mac) and edited. Another option is an editing app like Splice (free). Hopefully these comments give you some ideas!

  2. Thanks for all the info. Very helpful. Question: In addition to recording the whiteboard session that you run from your iPad, is it possible to edit that recording? For example, I anticipate wanting to speed up the video (recording) after I am done with it. I might also want to keep the video but rerecord the audio. I might even decide the session is too long so I’ll want to cut out a portion of it and splice the rest together. Does ScreenChomp or other such apps mentioned in this blog offer such video recording EDITING capabilities?

  3. For interactive whiteboard apps, I suggest AniMoby. I use it to create presentations and lessons for my class. Very easy to use, and their is an extensive clip-art section that helps me put together lessons. I have it for my iPad, but I know it is available for iPhone and Android Tablets too

  4. […] Screencasting is the most common content creation approach for flipped teaching. While Apple does not permit apps that capture all iPad screen activity like traditional PC and Mac screencasting tools, there are ways to work around this, and there are lots of good tools for doing a more limited form of screencasting (more like “white board casting”) on the iPad. Apps like Educreations let you bring up a digital white board on the iPad, record whatever you do there, and save and distribute it for play back. Lots of teacher like to use this type of approach to illustrate things.There are three more whiteboard screencasting apps for the iPad discussed in this article. […]

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  6. I’m trying to experiment with Doceri app, but it is crashing every time I try to open a project in another app. I’m hoping to save the video in Dropbox so I can then upload to my blog for students or during tutorials.

    Any help would be great. I believe the app is up to date…

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  8. […] have been consistent top 10 pages for viewership here on EmergingEdTech since they were published. Using The iPad As A Digital Whiteboard (Plus 4 Cool Free Apps To Try It Out) There are some nice free Digital Whiteboards apps available for the iPad. Free rocks. I found […]

  9. The bottom line remains that the writing ability on these apps, especially iPads, is elementary school level and pathetic. With all the technology advances, we can’t figure out how to write like grown-ups? For this reason, I continue to use my Toshiba Tablet PC (circa 2004) which gives me everything i need and beats the pants off every white board and app I have seen to date.

    It really, really is a significant limiter to advanced eLearning and collaborative efforts.

  10. We are using AirServer http://www.airserverapp.com – simple little program you can install on a Mac or PC – very inexpenive ($29.99 for 15 site licenses). AirServer allows you to wirelessly project both audio and video of your iPad through your computer to the projector. And best of all, more than 1 iPad at a time can show on the screen. So, you can show how one child solved a problem and then have another child or two project their iPad images at the same time to compare solutions! The “app” only goes on the computer that is connected to the projector – nothing to install on the iPad. Love this!

  11. Teacher trainer Dan Spencer just posted a step-by-step guide for using ScreenChomp to give personalized feedback on student writing projects: http://bit.ly/HJNCu5 You can include a lot more detail in a 2-minute video than in 2 minutes of jotting red squiggles…and it will be more intelligible to students.

    Another great use for these whiteboard apps!

  12. I have successfully used Reflection for displaying from iPad to IWB. Costs about $15 but is way cheaper than cable. You don’t get a full screen display but it is certainly big enough.

  13. Check out Educreation an app for the Ipad. educreations.com is the website. You can record your lesson and then present it or email it to students. I havent played around with it too much but from what i have seen so far it is not bad for free.

  14. Is it possible to download the video to my PC which I record using showme or Screenchomp. If do, how? And if now, Is there any app for that?


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