Website review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2021

Whiteboard.chat

Complex interactive whiteboard offers a full instructional experience

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Grades
K–12
Subjects & Skills
Communication & Collaboration

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Pros: A truly impressive feature set. Allows real-time assistance and feedback.

Cons: No lesson library. There's a lot going on, and seemingly simple tasks can be tricky.

Bottom Line: Impressive, unparalleled versatility makes this more of an instructional platform than a whiteboard, but it'll require a lot of up-front work to get comfortable.

For some teachers, it'll be a challenge to use Whiteboard.chat as anything more than a digital worksheet; for others, however, the bigger challenge will likely be figuring out which features to try out first.  Since it's geared toward either independent or group work, whether teacher guided or student paced, teachers can use it for warm-ups, multistep learning tasks, whole lessons, or even quick polls or formative assessments. 

While it's a blank slate to start, it's incredibly customizable thanks to media uploads, widgets, prompts, objects, and gizmos. Combine concepts like probability and fractions using the random dice widget and fraction block objects. Then add a writing prompt to ask students to explain their results. In science, engage students in video followed up with hands-on practice. Add timelines for students to label historical events, or add images that they can assign vocabulary to in a world language class. Art teachers might even find it fun to add squiggles to different slides and see how students add on to them to create unique drawings. Encourage your students with feedback through colorful stickers or tags like "Awesomesauce," or provide reminders for students to check their work.

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Whiteboard.chat is a slide-based whiteboard creation and collaboration platform. Teachers embed media, objects, and widgets in their whiteboard to create interactive lessons and activities. The site is rich with tutorials, and it needs to be: With over 100 features, the site feels like it checks off every teacher's wish list of tools. Since the company relies heavily on teacher feedback for features and improvements, there's no shortage of options for lesson design. Teachers start with blank slides and then can customize them by uploading files or adding text, media, widgets, gizmos, and objects. Whether providing feedback, adding a calculator, including movable objects, or experimenting with block code, teachers are sure to find something to suit their needs. While it's not difficult to get started, it'll take some time to become familiar with all the site offers. The student side is a bit less complex, however, allowing students to add text, media, and drawings and manipulate objects if teachers enable it. Teachers can view, grade, and showcase student work through the dashboard.

Whiteboard.chat has the bones to be a fantastic learning platform. Combining features of tools like Explain Everything, Jamboard, and Nearpod, the site gives teachers a ton of flexibility in terms of instructional design while also giving students opportunities to be creative and think critically about content. There's so much depth, in fact, that it requires a lot of commitment and self-guided learning from teachers just to grapple with what's possible. For some, this will just be too much (and that's understandable). If you're up for the challenge, though, it could become one of your favorite tools, with features you just can't find elsewhere.

For instance, the hand-raising feature allows teacher to see who needs help in real time, and the option to showcase student work turns independent student work into teachable moments. The built-in chat also helps with feedback and facilitation. If teachers take advantage of the more creative widgets and gizmos, they'll be able to design learning experiences across all subjects -- from math to music -- that immerse students in content and keep them motivated. That said, it's also possible to just upload PDFs and have student interact with them, which could easily fall flat. More ideal adaptations of Whiteboard.chat will take advantage of the site's many resources to design activities that encourage creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking.

Getting acclimated to the interface will be challenging. There are often multiple steps required to do what you want, and a lot of it requires trial and error. One challenge you'll run into early is that there are three options for entering text, each with different affordances and uses. Some text, once entered, can't get the font and text-size change. It's curious why there wouldn't just be one text field that can be edited and adjusted if you click on it again. Many of the gizmos also have a lot of options and details to tweak to get them set up appropriately. This means teachers might be better off completing some tasks first -- like getting content on the board -- and then worrying about editing later on. And while there are tons of tutorials, it can be difficult to find help for specific features or issues you might be facing. In this way, the site would benefit immensely from a content library, templates, and contextual help attached to each gizmo and widget.

Whiteboard.chat also clearly takes accessibility to heart. Features like audio recording (including speech-to-text translation) and support for Microsoft's Immersive Reader, OpenDyslexic font, and multiple languages go above and beyond what many other platforms provide. 

Overall Rating

Engagement

With options to draw, write, and manipulate what's on the screen, there's no shortage of features that'll intrigue, but the complexity could frustrate without support.

Pedagogy

Though it's essentially a blank slate, teachers can create dynamic and deep learning experiences through thoughtful lesson design and meaningful feedback.

Support

There are great accessibility options like language support, Immersive Reader integration, audio notes, and special fonts. While it has a ton of tutorials, they could be better integrated.


Common Sense reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Instructional Technology Facilitator

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