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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. Here is another app recommendation! Board Cam is not only a whiteboard app… it’s a document camera app also . With Board Cam you can user pointers, labels, or draw over the iPad 2 live video camera image, over a image stored in your device or use it as a whiteboard. All in one app!

    Please, visit http://boardcamapp.com for more information or the app’s page on the App Store:


  2. Hi Dustin:

    I just purchased Splashtop Whiteboard as well with the intention of controlling my SMART Notebook program from my iPad around the classroom. Seems like a great app, but mine has been crashing randomly. Have you had any of the same issues?

  3. I currently am using SplashTop remote and am able to use whatever software I have installed on my desktop (Currently Mimio Studio). I wonder if anyone else is using this solution as it does not require any cables and makes it nice to display Word or PPT or any other interesting or unique things I have on the desktop and not on the iPad.

    Also I have an AppleTV attached to my projector and as of now can stream videos and pictures , but when iOS 5 comes out soon it will allow full video mirroring and allow the iPad to be projected directly. I will post something when that happens and let you know how it goes.

  4. Hi,

    Just wanted to add that as mentioned by someone else, ShowMe does record audio.

    I prefer ShowMe to ScreenChomp because ShowMe has a publicly accessible website where anyone can freely show and view their creations. This allows anyone to browse through recordings made by anyone, which is a good way to find interesting or useful recordings. If you want to keep a recording private, you can choose to do so.

    However, ScreenChomp has no such website or community where you can browse other recordings. These recordings can only be shared with other people who have a direct URL link to the specific recording, shared by the creator. In my opinion, this is a wasted opportunity for sharing excellent resources with all.

    Just my opinion.

  5. Have you looked at airsketch for an app Ed? I use this app on my iPad during class to write on , which then sends the signal to a web browser on my laptop which is hooked up to the class room projector in the front of the room. This lets me wander the room but still put stuff on the screen? It’s great!

  6. Thanks Lilia – When the app indicated it couldn’t find the SMART server, I thought it was referring the SMART Board, but in either case, it would seem the app requires the presence of another external application. If anyone knows more about this app, please drop us a comment to advise. Thanks!

  7. The SMART Bridgit conference is a data conferencing software and not a white boarding program/app at all. Just wanted to clarify.

  8. Cynthia – can you elaborate on that? Does the Doceri product line contain elements that enable wireless projecting via the iPad?

  9. Yeah, projecting via a wireless connection would be nice. I wonder if there are wireless projectors, or some kind of interface that can enable this? Have to do some poking around.

  10. Thanks for the summary. Will try your recommendations. I use Phatware’s PhatPad with a stylus for annotating, drawing and writing in digital ink. phatPad costs a few dollars but ut is full-featured and offers the option to do do handwriting recognition on the digital ink we write at a lat time.

    My problem with using the iPad during presentations and lectures is that I don’t wantnto be wired or tied to the podium. I want to move around all over the front of the classroom or meeting room.

    Can’t wait until we can present/project off the iPad over the air, the way we have been able to do with Windows and Macs, for quite some time, now.

    In the mean time, I will check out those whiteboard apps that can share screen with a laptop. The laptop can stayed anchor to the podium while we can be free to move around a little.

  11. Just a couple quick comments. ShowMe does record audio very similar to ScreenChomp.

    You might also want to look at AirSketch free. It allows you to Write on your projector screen wirelessly.


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