Dabbleboard is an interactive collaborative whiteboard that allows participants to share online in real time. There are several different options for free online whiteboards.
What is an online interactive (virtual)collaborative whiteboard?
An online electronic whiteboard application is a tool that provides multiple participants with the ability to communicate, collaborate and share information. Essentially anything a traditional whiteboard can do, an online electronic whiteboard can do, with the added advantage that what is put on the whiteboard can be permanently stored and participants can be scattered across the world. Online whiteboard software provides a variety of tools that allow users to share documents, images, videos, websites, chat and participate in two-way audio conversation. Initially the idea of online meetings was to replicate what an offline meeting could do and therefore the tools required to communicate, demonstrate, brainstorm and share information was essential. In the beginning the ability to have participants connect from anywhere in the world was an important milestone. As time went on the requirement for the facilitator of the meeting to have the ability to manage multiple attendees, manage security, as well as provide a host of drawing tools as well as enable various methods of communication was crucial. Although initially the target audience was business users, the educational sector soon saw the value that these tools could provide.
Similar Terms used when describing online whiteboards
There are several terms that are used and for the most part are interchangeable. The only difference lies in the number of features across the many options.
Similar terms for online whiteboards include: interactive online whiteboard, virtual whiteboard, web conferencing.
What is the difference between an Interactive Whiteboard and an Electronic whiteboard?
An electronic whiteboard (or virtual whiteboard, web conference) is conducted through an Internet connection. It is a software application which enables learners to view what a teacher or fellow learner writes or draws.
An interactive whiteboard is a large physical board that can function like an ordinary whiteboard, but has a projector screen and computer attached. The board is touch sensitive and so a person's finger can act like the chalk or mouse. Whatever is drawn on the surface of the interactive whiteboard can be saved and printed or distributed across a computer network.
What are some of the features of using online whiteboards?
- Teaching can include a wide range of material such as an image, video, URL from the Internet, a graph or drawing to pictorially represent an idea, a concept map for brainstorming, all of which enhance and accommodate various learning styles.
- Allows learners to be free from note-taking and participate in their own learning.
- Allows learners to work collaboratively and interactively which provides for active learning rather than passively receiving information
- Everything being completed during the whiteboard learning session can be recorded or stored for reuse or recall.
- Accommodates group work: students can contribute/add their contribution directly on the whiteboard and users can work together to solve problems or brainstorm ideas.
- The teacher can include outside subject matter experts in the presentation to enhance the learning experience
- Students can work with students from other areas/countries/cultures with this forum
- Can be used to present student work to a wider audience
Technical Requirements for electronic whiteboard technology
- User must have computer and Internet connection.
- Internet connection must have healthy bandwidth. If teachers are going to have multiple users within one class and include computer audio, images and video, it is recommended that testing is done beforehand.
- Computer must have java ability and Flash
Note: These online whiteboards were not tested on any Macintosh Platform.
As of February 2013, the top online whiteboards include Scribblar,  Dabbleboard and GroupBoard. The image shown below is the screen users will see when logging into Dabbleboard. Dabbleboard screen
Dabbleboard can be used individually or interactively to create diagrams, mind maps, charts, and virtually anything you can think of to assist learners to understand a concept.
A key advantage Dabbleboard has over its competitors is the ability to create shapes freehand. Dabbleboard takes the shape drawn by hand and transforms it into a perfect shape. It makes the feel of creating an object as familiar to the user as a pen or piece of chalk.
The other significant advantage to Dabbleboard over its competitors is that it assumes that the user wants to continue to draw more of the same shape. For example, if you want to draw a bunch of circles and you want them all to be a particular color, you choose the circle object and the color. Then you can draw as many circles as desired. Competitive products force the user to select the object every time they want to use it.
Key features of Dabbleboard:
- Web based white board
- Shape can be resized, moved or duplicated. Shapes are treated like objects in any other application. When the object is selected, handles appear. From there, users can resize it, click, drag and move it, or choose the replicate option which is the top right hand corner of the object. SMART uses a clone feature which is identical to the replicate feature of Dabbleboard
- Sharing of drawings which also allows simultaneous editing.
- Real time collaboration through chat functionality
- Compatible with most major illustration programs
Weaknesses or Challenges of Dabbleboard: Like any other technology tool, it takes a bit of practice and exposure to feel comfortable with the application. For younger users, it could prove difficult for them to get used to the freehand tool. To create a circle, for example, the user must complete the full circle in freehand for the object to be created properly. If not, the shape disappears.
Examples using Dabbleboard
See Scribblar in Action:
Here are a few sites showing Scribblar in Action:
Highlights of Scribblar:
Scribblar is a free tool that is easy to sign up for. The website is www.scribblar.com. The first step is to sign up for an account. Once completed, the account information is sent to the email address indicated in the sign up and an activation link is provided.
The next step is to create a room for participants to join. Once in the room, along the right hand side there are icons such as:
- Geometric shapes
- Writing tools
- Drawing, text, highlighting
- Michrophone button in order to enable audio
- Chat features providing text messaging amongst group members
Along the top, the icons include:
- Cut, copy, paste, undo, redo, delete
- Flip horizontally or vertically
- Snapshot feature which takes a picture of what is on the canvas and adds it to the Assets tab
- Equation editor for building mathematical equations
At the bottom of the screen, users can select line, color or thickness attributes.
- 5MB limitation
- Arrow buttons are not free flowing
- Flip version does not always work
- Text font options are limited
The current version of Scribblar has an asset tab which can be used to upload various file types such as .ppt, .pdf, .jpeg., gif and png. In addition you can upload Flickr images
Scribblar Room screen:
Key features of the Free option for GroupBoard:
- 5 participants on one whiteboard
- 20 Saved pictures
- 4 Background images
- 50 Forum posts
- Real-time whiteboard, chat, message boards and games
- Supports multiple languages
- Whiteboard can be resized
- Will work with tablets such as Wacom Bamboo/Intuos
- Contents remain after users have logged off
Examples using Groupboard
The groupboard room:
Educational benefits of electronic whiteboards.
Electronic whiteboards are Web 2.0
Web 2.0 affords participants with the ability to share and update information real-time in order to enhance, support and facilitate learning. In fact it is the provision of participation and collaboration that differentiates Web 2.0 from Web 1.0. Lankshear and Knobel discuss the ethos of Web 2.0 by saying that “there has to be extensive collaboration, participation, distribution of expertise and “intelligence”, as well as emphasis on performance, far-flung access to human, informational and other resources pertinent to learning.”  To this end, online whitebaord applications such as Dabbleboard, Scribblar and GroupBoard have the required elements to be considered Web 2.0 compliant.
Electronic whiteboards support 21st Century thinking
21st Century education has a variety of characteristics that electronic whiteboards enhance and support. This tool can provide active learning, it encourages learners to work collaboratively inside and outside the classroom (the global classroom), and it can include multiple forms of media for learning and assessment.
Marc Prensky an acclaimed speaker, writer, consultant, and innovator in the field of education and learning asks the following questions to ensure technology is being used in a 21st century format:
Does the technology allow students to learn from people they never would have been able to without it?
Does the technology allow students to interact with information in a way that is meaningful and could not have happened otherwise?
Does the technology allow students to create and share their knowledge with an audience they never would have had access to without technology?
Electronic whiteboards support Visual Learners
Using an interactive whiteboard is an excellent tool that accommodates various types of learners, especially the visual learner 
Some of the characteristics visual learners may demonstrate:
- Memorize things by seeing them on paper.
- Would rather watch, than talk or do.
- Notice details.
- Remember faces better than names.
- Have trouble following verbal directions.
Some strategies that enhance a visual learners experience can include:
- Using visuals to teach lessons, including pictures, graphics, images, charts, outlines, story maps, and diagrams
- When giving verbal directions, use visuals
- Demonstrate what you want your child to do.
- Use colored markers.
- Use color cues, framing and symbols to highlight key information.
- Provide visual activities, including maps, videos, models, puzzles, matching activities, computers, and word searches
Cool Sites to explore - Teachers using this technology
Here is a site that provides loads of ready-to-go assignments for online whiteboards:
Another site illustrating a calculus lesson on a whiteboard: http://www.teq.com/blog/2012/07/scribblar-collaborative-whiteboard-space/
The official blog for Dabbleboard. However on this site, there is an excellent video with Dan Roam, called Solving problems with pictures. It also has loads of other resources : http://dabbleboard.wordpress.com/
This link takes you to a PDF document that has over 100 pages of projects that have been used by teachers. The projects span all age groups as well as a multitude of digital applications. Here it is: http://www.terry-freedman.org.uk/web2_2010/Amazing%20Web%202%20Projects%202%20online%20version.pdf
Some great examples of problem solving images that could easily be transitioned to an online whiteboard: https://www.google.ca/search?q=solving+problems+with+pictures&hl=en&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=io44UaX-H6vr0QGGtoGIDA&ved=0CC4QsAQ&biw=1280&bih=685
External Links and resources available
This website has excellent information about the 21st century classroom http://www.21stcenturyschools.com/what_is_21st_century_education.htm
Dr. McLeod - video seen by more than 4 million people: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMcfrLYDm2U
- Lankshear & Knobel 2008
- Presnsky 2008
Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2008). The "twoness" of learn 2.0: Challenges and propsects of a would-be new learning paradigm. Closing keynote presented at the Learning 2.0: From Preschool to Beyond, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ.