It's Been 5 Years Since we Updated This Popular Listing
One of the most popular posts on the site since way back when (2010 in fact) has been “6 Free Online Interactive White Boards”, which I later updated in 2012. Well, that's 5 years ago now, which is a lifetime in tech terms, and this listing is ripe for a fresh update.
Thankfully, the job was made a bit easier by the comments that users have left over the years sharing tools that they like.
So, here are the remaining tools from the 2012 post that are still functional today, plus 3 additional tools recommended by our readers.
Twiddla (http://www.twiddla.com): 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.
Megascopes' Whiteboard (http://whiteboard.megascopes.com): 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 ” 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): Groupboard offers a wide range of functionality, including free use by clicking here (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.
Scribblar (http://scribblar.com): 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.
ScribLink (http://www.scriblink.com): 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.)
And here are a few free user-recommended tools from the comments that are still available as I write this. I was surprised how few of these were actually still working, and were either free on only a very limited time trial basis, or were not actually collaborative. These three are the only ones of the many left in comments that met these criteria.
- SpryCanvas (http://sprycanvas.com/)
- NoteBookCast (https://www.notebookcast.com/)
- IdeaClouds (https://www.ideaclouds.net/): Free for 3 users (site may prompt for Google translation – it is not in English).
If you know of any other free, collaborative online whiteboards, or have feedback on these, please drop a comment and let us know!