Engaging Learners with Technology – collaborative online whiteboards
I had been meaning to use one of those realtime online whiteboards for a long time and today I finally had a chance to do so. Actually, the students had such a whale of a time that I used it twice today, for completely different purposes and tasks but with equal success.
There are plenty of free realtime whiteboards and you will easily find a bunch of them on Google. I used Twiddla (twiddla.com) because it doesn’t require registation or any set-up at all.
All you need to do is to go to twiddla.com and click on “Start a new meeting” button.
Your e-board will be assigned an easy and short web address. Your students need to type in this address in a browser on their phones, tablets or laptops, once again no registration is needed. Then all students can draw, type and chat on the same board through their devices. Everything someone types or draws on their devices instantly appears on the common whiteboard.
On the Ipone or the Ipad the board looks exactly the same as on the computer screen. The only difference is that the text function will be available only through chat, but not on the board itself. On Android phones and tables, the students will see the following screen.
They need to click on the draw button to be able to draw on the board, or they can click on the chat button to send a message in a chat room.
As students open the board on their phones and tablets, automatically each new participant is assigned a name “guest###” (for example, guest1234), the students can easily change their display name (the image above shows how to do it).
Like I’ve mentioned before I used Twiddla for two different activites.
With my B2 students we “Twiddled” (not a word yet, but can become one soon) for an answer-and-guess-who activity. The students were given a set of questions about movies (since we have been talking and writing about film reviews with them lately).
Each of the students opened the same Twiddla board on their mobile phones and tablets, I asked them not to change their display names on Twiddla to keep it secret who posts what. Each of the students had to type their answers in a chat window. I asked them to type the answers in one line, separated by a coma so that all the answers of one student would be posted as one message and not as several messages scattered all over the chat. Since students didn’t change their display names, no one knew who were posting which answers. When everyone posted their answers to the chat, I asked the students to look at each of the messages in the chat and try to guess who wrote each set of answers. The students earned one point for each correct guess. I have to admit that this is not one of those easy-to-motivate groups but surprisingly enough, the students were truly engaged in this activity and were even ready to do one more round, which really inpired me to use Twiddla more in my classes.
So I did. The same day actually. In a B1 classroom when students “Twiddled” (see, I am getting into a habit of using this one as a verb) during a poster presentation session. In groups of 4 the students were to prepare posters promoting any city in the world, they had to gather any information that would attract visitors to the city. The information could include anything from real airline ticket prices to famous landmarks and traditional food. During the poster session, two of the team members had to stay with their stand/poster, while two other students of each group were visiting the stands of others and asking the presenters about each of the cities and what they have to offer. After one round the two “visiting” members of the team would swap their roles with the presenters, who would start cruising aroud the classroom.
While the students were walking from one poster to another and asking questions they had to comment on what they have found out about each city using the Twiddla chat. Their task was also to highlight what they liked most about each city, what they found shocking or surprising and where they would really like to go. The students were chatting in real time and I could immediately see their comments on the whiteboard. And since students love chatting on their phones, the comments were really flooding in. Here are some, to give you an idea:
I encourage you to use realtime whiteboards in your classroom and if you do or have already done so, I would be delighted to hear how it went and how you used it.
Posted on May 21, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged efl, esl, online whiteboards, presentation ideas, technology in tefl, technology in the classroom, TEFL, tefl and tech, tools for collaboration, Web 2.0, web 2.0 in education, web 2.0 in tefl. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.