Review: Three Online Whiteboard Apps

Whiteboards are a great option to show a mechanism or diagram thoughts for your class. However, if you're teaching online, they can be tricky to use when not in a classroom. Luckily, there are several whiteboard web-apps that can be used synchronously (e.g., virtual office hours) or asynchronously (e.g., project group assignments). Below is a review of the top three whiteboard web-apps I found.

REALTIME BOARD

This application offers the smoothest experience on both mobile and desktop (even writing with a mouse looked good in this one) and can do a lot more than just white boarding. I have used this product before and like it.

Try it at: https://realtimeboard.com/

What is RealtimeBoard?

PROS:

  • Free for teams of 3 (paid tier for larger teams)
  • Simple product but still has options
  • Boards are endless in all directions
  • Has a mobile app (android and iOS) and web app (no installation for web)
  • Mobile users can draw and use most tools
  • Drawing is smooth for remote users (does not look choppy)
  • Boards can be downloaded as a PDF

CONS:

  • Audio and video conferencing in paid tier
  • Limited to only a few boards in free tier
  • For users to edit your board, you need to invite them via email (it has a Google integration so they can create a free account with their @u addresses)


WEBEX

Northwestern has a campus-wide license for WebEx which has a whiteboard functionality.

Try it at: http://northwestern.webex.com (log in with your NetID then go to My WebEx and Enter Room).

Guide to Whiteboard (from UC): https://kb.uc.edu/KBArticles/WebEx-Whiteboard.aspx (Note step 3B)  

PROS:

  • Integrated audio
  • Paginated whiteboard
  • Can download the whiteboard

CONS:

  • Requires installation of web-browser extension or mobile app
  • Mobile users cannot contribute to the whiteboard (desktop only)
  • There is a bit of a delay in the drawing from the remote user’s perspective (looks a little choppy)
  • Users need to give name and email to enter meeting


A WEB WHITEBOARD APP

Simple, free to use whiteboard app online.

Try it at: https://awwapp.com/ 

How To: https://awwapp.com/docs/whiteboard/

PROS:

  • Free
  • Web-based
  • Anyone with link can join and contribute (no login required)
  • Mobile-device (touch) friendly
  • Refresh rate of drawings is better than  WebEx but still a little choppy

CONS:

  • Free tier has basic tools, advanced tools in paid tier
  • No audio conferencing integration
  • Cannot download whiteboard in free tier (PDF export in paid tier)

Image credit: Firecloud by Doug Belshaw