Since I have a degree in Instructional Technology and am furthering my graduate studies in this field, many times I get asked by other teachers, "So what are some web app tools which I can use in my classroom?" Especially now in this time of digital teaching, teachers are searching for new novel ways of delivering instruction. Quite honestly, so am I, but I am actually very selective in what new web app tools which I want to introduce into my classroom.
When reviewing web app tools for student use in the classroom, here is my primary test: Does it require that my students create an account for them to log in for use? If it does, then I most likely will pass it over. I know for many that sounds like a flimsy reason not to use a particular web app tool for instruction, but hear me out for my reasons:
- Practical reasons - I do not need students having to keep track of what log-in IDs and passwords which they are using for all of the various web app tools in all of their classes, because there will always be those few students who cannot remember their information and then cannot take part in the online activity. Even though students in my classroom have a district email account, I am amazed at how many still do not know what it is.
- Student privacy information issues - As teachers in this digital age (and as required by federal laws COPPA and CIPA), we must do everything we can to protect student privacy and any online information which students may knowingly and unknowingly transmit when using digital tools for classroom purposes. The less information which students can provide web app tool companies, the better in my opinion. My district has a list of 3rd-party online vendors which we are allowed to use for classroom purposes, because those companies' student data collection procedures align with my district's guidelines.
- I love how, like the Draw This function in Nearpod, I can see in real time what students are putting down on their whiteboards on my screen! This is a great formative tool for me as a teacher.
- I like how easy it is to set up a "class" and that I can do it at that moment!
- This tool works great for a hybrid class (in-person and digital simultaneously), because the focus is on individual device screens and does not require me as the teacher to share a screen/divide my attention.
- After students completed a drawing, I "pushed" some of their drawings onto the class's device screens so that others could see them.
- Whiteboard.fi does not save what students draw/write on their device screens, but you can download everyone's whiteboard screens to a PDF prior to clearing them if you wish to have a record. If you are wanting a whiteboard web app tool which will store images, then consider using Jamboard
- The URL for Whiteboard is Whiteboard.fi - if you are curious, the fi stands for Finland.