Monday, August 19, 2013

Real-time Collaborative Whiteboards for Distance Education

I was discussing a situation with a school the other day where they want to implement a virtual class in order to offer courses across a number of campuses. They will use Video Conferencing in order to do this but also want the ability for the teacher and students to be working on a real-time collaborative whiteboard canvas where problems can be worked out and documented. I decided to go away and investigate what some of the options might be. Here is a quick overview of possibilities. I am happy for others to add to this list in the comments. I found plenty that worked within the same wifi setup but we were really looking for ones that work over the internet so distance was not an issue.

SyncSpace: $8.49 AU
SyncSpace lets people express and explore visual ideas together, wherever you are. It is a zoomable space that can be shared in real time over the net. SyncSpace drawings can be updated by anyone who also has SyncSpace, anywhere on the Internet. You can invite others to collaborate on sketches. Sketches can be displayed on a nearby AppleTV or any HDMI or VGA-connected display.

Whiteboard HD: $5.49 AU
Whiteboard provides an environment for writing, sketching and recording brainstorming sessions. You can make freeform drawings, add pre-made shapes and lines with familiar tap, pinch, and drag gestures. You can import any image  from the iPad photo library and share ideas with the iPad VGA adapter. At the end of class or a meeting, it’s easy to save and bookmark notes.

Jot: $5.49 AU
Jot is a simple whiteboard that lets you sketch out your ideas and share them in real time. Draw, take notes, or wireframe on your iPad quickly and easily as soon as ideas come to you. Share your ideas via email or save them as photos. The Live Sharing feature that allows you to collaborate with other Jot users in real time over the internet. Start up a Jot session and get on the same page in a snap.!-whiteboard/id376133340?mt=8

SyncPad: FREE app + $5 month subscription
SyncPad enables users to collaborate in real-time with other people independently from where they are. With SyncPad, you can share your ideas with tens of people. It works whether you are presenting to someone sitting a few feet away or across the globe. Share drawings like a real whiteboard or annotate existing images or documents. Support for images and multi-page PDF files.

Groupboard: FREE app + $9 month subscription
Groupboard turns your iPad into a collaborative whiteboard, allowing you to draw and chat in real time with anyone on the internet, even with users using a web browser. Use it for online tutoring or collaboration! Simple to use - simply start the app and then draw on the screen by dragging your finger. Use two fingers to scroll and zoom. Click Connect tab to connect with other people.

BaiBoard: FREE
BaiBoard is a collaboration canvas with a drawing interface. You can import or share documents from Dropbox, GDocs, Email, iTunes and Evernote. It has a variety of drawing tools and built-in stencils and you can publish and share your ongoing BaiBoard sessions via social media. View Canvas and PDF from any computer or device on same network using web browser.


  1. Hi Greg,
    A great article as always. May I please republish your article on our site. I will of course give full accreditation and link back. regards
    Greg Alchin