This blog post is sponsored by Acer Education, a partner of EdTechTeam.
“A whiteboard on every desk” is the way Google’s collaboration tool, Jamboard, has been described – and it certainly is redefining the way that students interact with each other and the teachers in the classroom.
Steven Hope, Head of Independent Learning at Leeds City College, commented, “The Jamboard has no equivalent in any other learning tool. It allows learners who ordinarily might not be able to be physically in attendance – single parents, those with caring responsibilities, those with long term absences – to engage in learning because there is real-time collaboration through the cloud capabilities built into the tool.”
The Chromebook app that I use on the Acer Tab 10 is perfectly designed for stylus interaction; just like a student might have used a traditional whiteboard and pen to respond to a task or answer a question, this digital substitution allows for quick engagement, and with multiple ‘jam screens’ open, there is no need to wipe off the answers before using them again. If that was all this tool offered, it would be adequate as a free alternative (no more grubby plastic I hear you say!).
However, this is barely scratching the surface of the capability of Jamboard and it is in its interactivity that the true value is found. Moving beyond substitution, tasks can be totally redefined in how students can work together and develop ideas. For instance, as part of a revision session, I used the sticky notes feature to ask students to list a topic they had found difficult in that term and add their name. Each student ‘wrote’ on their own device through the app and these sticky notes appeared on every other student’s screen in real time. This mesmerised many of them but the magic was in the next step – asking them to group common themes together, add thumbs up and down in terms of their confidence levels on topics, and then partner themselves with someone who felt more confident in that area. The peer coaching that emerged has been amazing and it shows a truly blended approach – using the technology as a means rather than an end in itself.
Likewise, the usability of Jamboard and the fact that you can create new jams right out of Google Drive (Click ‘New’ and then ‘More’) means that students can intuitively create and curate their resources. Simple tasks like ordering events on a timeline or an opinion continuum allows students to all be working on the same document simultaneously without the need for copy and paste! Moreover, the auto-save nature of all Google tools and the idea that these planning or brainstorming ideas are saved electronically means that students and teachers alike can refer back to these at a later date.
One of the most impressive uses of the Chromebook app I have seen has been in how it allows those groups from disparate places to develop ideas and save them in the cloud so they can be accessed on any device. Some of the marketing apprentices I look after worked on a project with a multinational company, planning their social media ideas and developing a campaign around a particular event the company was attending. No longer did this company need to travel the length of the country (or further) to meet with the students but using Google Hangouts, they held a video conference whilst the learners used a shared jam to record ideas and interact with the client. This meant that multiple users could be editing the same document and the company could see this in real-time despite not being in the same room. They added images and annotations using the stylus, creating a brilliant mood board that could be signed off immediately, leading to a greater efficiency.
Whatever the age of the students you work with, the Jamboard app can create a whole host of opportunities for collaboration, engagement and interaction. Check out First Day of Jamboard resources for more ideas.
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Ben Whitaker is a certified Google Educator, Trainer and Innovator and former Assistant Principal, who has led training around the UK and beyond. He is a passionate speaker who engages and inspires all those he works with. He has a background in leading sixth form, senior leadership and school governance. Ben’s teaching speciality is 11-18 Religious Education and Philosophy. Ben recently moved from his role as Chief Education Officer at Project Digital, in Lancashire, to take up a Curriculum Manager position at Burnley College. He is a Director at Edufuturists, where he hosts a number of educational podcasts and oversees the annual Edufuturists Summit & Awards. He tweets at @itsbenwhitaker.