Electronic whiteboards

This short guide shows how to use an electronic whiteboard to conduct remote tutorial sessions (one-to-one or one-to-many) for subjects that use diagrams, mathematical notation, or special language characters. This guide focuses mainly on using an iPad (with an electronic stylus), but also mentions Windows devices.

Important aspects to consider

  • In your planning, think about student access to technology. If you are expecting student interaction, what will they need to have to be able to interact with you and the group, and to use a whiteboard. It would be a good idea to ensure in advance that these expectations are understood by the students. Perhaps you could engage them in a discussion beforehand, or ask them to respond to a poll regarding their available technology.
  • You may have access to various technology tools (old and new), such as old laptops, PC/Mac, different types of tablets, or an electronic stylus. You also have different requirements, such as recording (or not), saving the whiteboard (or not), or using physical pen and paper. This guide attempts to accommodate common scenarios across the University and across disciplines. If you need guidance or advice for a bespoke situation, please email the Teaching Remotely Service Desk, giving details of your requirements.

Software to use

Download the following Apps on your device (links to Microsoft Help pages are provided at the bottom of this page)

  • Microsoft Whiteboard (iPad)
  • Microsoft Teams application
  • (Optional) Canvas App for teachers (but you can use the web version in Canvas

 There is also web-based version of Microsoft Whiteboard that you can use to collaborate with others.   

For Windows OS

The option to use the whiteboard is available and included in Microsoft Teams when you are in a one-to-many meeting (during the meeting – or after the meeting – go to the Chat channel and you will see Whiteboard in the top options bar).

The whiteboard is not available for a one-to-one meeting. Refer to these guidelines on the Microsoft Office website.

Whiteboard option in Teams

Of course, it is difficult to write on an electronic whiteboard using just your mouse (if you are using a laptop or desktop computer). The optimal solution is to use an electronic pencil (stylus) on a Widows tablet (i.e. Microsoft® Surface Pro), an iPad (see details below), or a laptop/desktop with a touch screen. This will enable you to write more comfortably, as you would on a piece of paper.

PS: you can also use the whiteboard in Canvas through the integration with Class Notebook (OneNote) (see details below).

For iPad

The whiteboard is not included in the Teams app. We propose the following two workarounds.

Option A: You have a Canvas course: You can access a whiteboard within Canvas by opening the Class Notebook tool (part of OneNote, integrated into Canvas).

Option B: You don’t have a Canvas course or you don’t need to use Canvas for a meeting or tutorial: You can use the Microsoft Teams whiteboard application.

(These steps were tested using an iPad Pro (12.9 inch. OS 13.3.1) and Apple Pencil)

 

Class Notebook is a Microsoft app (part of OneNote) that offers many ways to organise content into sections; and each notebook page is effectively a whiteboard area which can accept free annotation using a stylus (ideal if working on a tablet), text, images and multimedia. Class Notebook is powerful, but more complex to use than the Microsoft whiteboard app (see option B).

Note: The Help section within any Class Notebook offers a range of introductory videos.

  1. Set up the tool OneNote Class Notebook within your Canvas course (in which you have the ‘teacher’ role). If the tool is not available on the left hand side navigation, go to Settings > Navigation and add to the navigation menu – drag Class Notebook from the bottom list to the top list. Remember to click Save at the bottom of the Navigation settings screen.
  2. You will need to sign up to your OneNote account from within Canvas, using your single sign-on credentials.
  3. This will launch the Class Notebook tool and create a ‘class’ with the name of your Canvas course. You will then be guided through a brief setup process.
  4. Launch the ‘Open in OneNote Online’ option, which will take you to Class Notebook. From there you can collaborate with your students using all the Class Notebook features, including sharing screens.
Class Notebook screenshots

If you don’t have a Canvas course or don’t want to use Class Notebook from Canvas, you can use the Microsoft Teams Whiteboard application on your tablet. Note that the Teams Whiteboard is not available from the iPad application. This is a workaround for use on an iPad.

  1. Install the Microsoft Whiteboard application (download it from the Microsoft store).
  2. Start that application on your iPad.
  3. Launch a Teams meeting. When in the Teams application, instead of using the ‘share Whiteboard option’ (not available on iPad), use ‘share screen’.
  4. Sharing the screen will let students see your whiteboard.
  5. If the whiteboard area starts by filling the screen, it should be possible to zoom out to provide more space.
  6. Once you have finished using the whiteboard, you can export it from the app to Teams, or save it as an image.
  7. You can invite students inside the whiteboard app to collaborate with you, and they will be able to write on the same whiteboard. However:
    • You can have only one whiteboard per meeting.
    • If you want to use another whiteboard, you will have to create a new meeting and invite students again.
  8. To invite your students, click next to your name icon (with your photo) on the top right. This provides the option to invite someone with their single signon username; alternatively, you can invite students by sending them the link for this whiteboard session (which you will find on the same page).
Class Notebook screen samples

Conclusions

  • Using the Whiteboard application on the iPad is simpler to use than Class Notebook, even if it is merely a workaround for now.
  • Class Notebook in Canvas offers better options for organising content or providing spaces for students to work on assigned tasks, but it is more complex to use.

General help pages

Microsoft Teams: Use Whiteboard in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Whiteboard App

Microsoft Whiteboard App for iPad: Whiteboard not displaying for iOS Teams app

Microsoft OneNote: Draw and sketch notes on a page

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