Whiteboard apps are an essential tool in a virtual classroom. Helping to overcome some of the biggest challenges of live online training, they enable students and teachers to collaborate remotely, in real time. Improving engagement, social interaction, and learning outcomes, the investment is a no-brainer. But with dozens of whiteboard apps available, which one will give your students the best whiteboard experience?
From blackboards to whiteboards, PHPs, electronic whiteboards, interactive and smart boards and now online, or virtual whiteboards. Arguably the most important tool in a classroom, teachers have used these for over one hundred years. To illustrate concepts, reiterate key points, share ideas, explain, collaborate with students, create mind maps, take notes and more.
The tools have evolved throughout the ages to accommodate new technologies and new ways of learning, but primarily the tools have been designed for traditional classroom-based learning. Until now.
The rise in remote, virtual training has been met with the introduction of online whiteboards. As instructors grapple with the challenges of teaching in an online environment – from engagement, to online fatigue, to lack of social connection – they’re turning to online whiteboards to help them solve these key problems.
The core functionality and core purpose of a virtual whiteboard remains largely the same as a real whiteboard – to foster collaboration. Replicating the experience of a physical whiteboard, teachers and students can see when another person writes or draws something, in real time. They can add notes, leave comments, or draw freehand.
But the functionality extends well beyond that of traditional whiteboards. Online whiteboards are usually infinite in size, meaning there’s no limit on how big a canvas can be. There are shape libraries, templates, arrows, post-it notes, flow-charts, and the ability to add media. Advanced whiteboard apps have video conferencing, mouse tracking, homework completion tracking and the ability to record and playback lessons.
An online whiteboard is most certainly the answer to replacing your physical whiteboard in remote training sessions. But with a tonne of whiteboard apps available, what ones are the best for training providers? We’ve narrowed it down to the top eight.
Best whiteboard apps
With more than 20 million users, Miro is arguably the most popular online whiteboard app. Miro is a whiteboard tool that enables communication and collaboration across formats, tools, channels, and time zones — without the constraints of physical location. It’s clean, simple and easy to use.
It’s the ideal tool for learners and teachers to brainstorm and collaborate. With features such as a zoomable whiteboard, templates, sticky notes, flow charts, and more. One way that Miro stands out from its competitors is the ability to create tables and charts from data that you enter. This includes pie charts, column charts, bar charts, and funnel charts. An added bonus is that Miro integrates with a tonne of other apps that are commonly used in remote training such as Zoom, Dropbox, Google Suite and even more via Zapier.
Miro is free for up to 3 editable boards, or paid plans start from as little as $8.
Zoom is primarily a video-conferencing platform, but it does have an in-built whiteboard tool. This can be useful for remote training that is already being taught via Zoom, without the need to integrate with another third party application.
While it has limitations, it is free with Zoom. It is useful for scenarios where learners and teachers only need basic whiteboard features, like drawing and annotation. It also has the ability to disable annotation for learners, if the host chooses to.
MURAL was initially designed as a collaboration tool for remote workers. Now its long list of features has extended its use to many scenarios and many businesses, including virtual training. Features include sticky notes, timer, voting, shapes, charts, wireframes, flowcharts, sketch pads and over 200 templates.
You can use Mural for free, with 5 murals and unlimited members. Or, upgrade to the Team+ plan for $9. Mural works best in a Google Chrome browser. It also has some integrations with other applications – although not as many as Miro.
4. Microsoft Whiteboard
Microsoft Whiteboard is another good, free whiteboard app in Microsoft 365. Everything is auto-saved to the cloud, and it integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft apps, such as Teams. A solid tool for collaboration and brainstorming in remote training sessions, it comes with all of the features you’d expect. Such as sticky notes, shapes and images,and the ability for teachers to switch to present mode.
The extensive library of resources on how to make the most of Microsoft Whiteboard deserves its own shout-out. From a dedicated blog, to YouTube videos, Teams groups, and an ultimate guide. You’ll be a pro on the app in no time!
Stormboard pitches itself as a high-end whiteboard app, with a focus on facilitating small group projects for remote teams and distributed workforces. The canvas has no limitations in size, and you can add text, free-form drawings, files, images, videos and more. There are a tonne of usable templates for agile scrum, daily standups, presentations, affinity mapping, brainstorming sessions and more. Which may make this whiteboard app particularly useful for agile training companies. It also has a mobile app, so you can access Stormboard on any device. The business plan starts from just $10.
6. Google Jamboard
Like Microsoft, Google has its own whiteboard app, as part of the G-Suite package. It’s called Jamboard. Jamboard is available as a mobile app or via a web browser. Or, you can buy a 55-inch cloud-powered whiteboard for your classroom. It may be particularly useful for training providers who often operate a flipped or hybrid classroom model. It allows remote learners to be able to collaborate on the physical whiteboard from their devices anywhere in the world. Jamboard is a versatile whiteboard which allows you to drop images, add notes, and grab assets directly from the web. Or pull in work from Docs, Sheets, and Slides. The Jamboard app is free, and the physical whiteboard starts from $4,999.
LucidSpark is another great whiteboard app. It has all the usual features such as drawing, annotating, voting, sticky notes and the ability to upload images and more. It also has a presentation builder that gives you the ability to turn your whiteboard into a slidedeck. As well as a wide range of templates such as brainstorming, evaluation, project planning and more.
LucidSpark also integrates with other apps such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, but plays extra nicely with its sister product LucidCharts, which is helpful for those who are already using that app. While it doesn’t have all of the features that Miro has, it still has a tonne of great features and even extends into the realm of gamification – with interactive games and icebreaker games to help collaborators get to know each other. The basic plan is free for up to three boards, but has limitations in terms of features. The individual plan starts at $9.95 and the team plan starts at $33 a month.
BitPaper is a super simple and easy to use whiteboard app. The simplicity makes it attractive for teachers and students who want to get started quickly without spending a ton of time learning how to use a new tool. It has drag and drop functionality for adding images and PDFs, the ability to create multiple pages, track homework completion, and it works seamlessly across desktop, laptop and mobile devices. It also has audio, video, chat and screen sharing capabilities, which not all of the whiteboard apps in this list offer.
The basic plan starts at $8, or $10 with calling functionality.
In our view, those are the top eight whiteboard apps for virtual training. But the list is by no means conclusive. There are a tonne of other whiteboard apps available – think Creately, FigJam, Bramble, Ziteboard and more.
We think these are the best whiteboard apps based on functionality, price, reputation, and the ability to foster true collaboration in virtual, remote training sessions. We’ve put Miro at the top of the list based on all of the above, our own experiences, as well as feedback from our own database of training providers.
One of those training providers, SoftEd, teaches a wide range of courses from agile to UX and design, and uses Miro in their virtual training courses. Knowledge engineer Brian Osman specializes in teaching agile for managers, agile project management, fundamentals, team facilitation and more.
Brian says Miro has been great for fostering collaboration and discussion during online training sessions. Since introducing Miro, he says that learner satisfaction has gone up, as has their NPS score.
“As a facilitator, one of the key benefits with Miro is that I can watch what’s happening in the breakout rooms. And see what kind of discussion and engagement is happening between the students.” He says.
For training providers looking for the ultimate solution to manage and sell courses, check out Arlo Training Management Software. Arlo can integrate with most whiteboard apps to manage the scheduling and payment of courses. And automatically share and add registrants to the whiteboard.
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4. Microsoft Whiteboard
6. Google Jamboard
Zoom has an in-built Whiteboard tool that allows the host to share a whiteboard with participants, and allow annotation. The functionality is limited, but it is a good basic whiteboard tool for trainers who are already using Zoom and are looking for a simple solution.
Miro is the best whiteboard for virtual training, based on functionality, price, user experience and the ability to foster collaboration in an online environment.
The best whiteboard apps have the ability to foster true collaboration in virtual, remote training sessions. We’ve put Miro at the top of the list based on functionality, price, user experience, and feedback from our own database of training providers.
Many online whiteboard tools have a free plan – including Miro, LucidSpark, Mural and more. The free plan usually has limitations in terms of how many boards, and the number of users, as well as limited features. Basic plans start from as little as $8.