Gather and share ideas with a digital whiteboard
Author: Mark Wilkinson – TELT
What is Microsoft Whiteboard
Microsoft Whiteboard is part of Office 365 and allows users to collaborate easily over a virtual whiteboard. Users can work in real time on a Whiteboard built in a similar way to a OneNote page e.g. it will expand to whatever size you need it to be. Whiteboards allow you to add information in a variety of methods e.g. text, windows ink, images; from online or your device, sticky notes and stickers.
This application has been available to staff for a while however we have not been able to fully utilise it due to the web version being inaccessible. The web version allows you to access a whiteboard and some features from a browser on a desktop or mobile device. This makes the app much more accessible to staff and students within the University.
Downloading Microsoft Whiteboard
On your University computer, you can download the Microsoft Whiteboard app via the Software Center.
Go to your search bar in the bottom left of your screen and type in “Software Center”. This will load up the apps available to download onto your device under our licences.
Select Microsoft Whiteboard (circled in red above) or search for it using the search box in the top right of the screen. Once selected you will have the option to install, select and it will appear in your start menu after a few minutes.
Using the app
When you open the app you may need to log in with your full UCLan email address. You will then see the options to “Create New Whiteboard” as well as any Whiteboards that you have already created or are currently shared with you.
To get started, click “Create New Whiteboard.
It is a very easy app to navigate, you can use your mouse or fingers (on a touchscreen) to move the whiteboard around the page. When you click on the pen symbol (on the content bar at the bottom) you can choose between different colours and start using windows ink. To return to moving the whiteboard you will need to click the blue tick that appears on the new bar.
Which will in turn bring you back to the content bar.
From this bar you can also add images, sticky notes, paste objects, Text, Stickers, Bing image and camera images.
In the top right of the interface you have a button with three lines on, if you select that you will open another menu. This menu gives you some of the Windows ink features such as Ink to shape and Ink to table. Impressively, it also allows you to export the whiteboard as an image (.PNG or .SVG).
For accessibility you also have the options of selecting different coloured backgrounds and styles for your board.
So now we know the interface and how to use it, we can start sharing whiteboards. You can share a whiteboard by clicking on the blue button (right). You can choose to type in an email address here, which will link up to UCLan’s global address book, so finding names should be relatively simple. However, you can also choose to create a sharing link by selecting the link symbol on the right.
Next turn on the sharing link. By default the sharing link will
only be accessible to people with a Uclan.ac.uk email address.
Copy the link and share with colleagues or student to enable
real time collaboration!
You can share this link by adding it to a document, via email or adding it to Blackboard. However, I think a good way to instantly share it with a group is to transform the URL into a QR code instead. This will enable students or staff to scan the QR code with their mobile devices and access the whiteboard from their internet browser. Therefore, instant collaboration!
Transform to a QR Code
Once you have copied the link go to a free QR making website, you can find these using Google’s search engine. I have used QR Code Generator.
From here, Paste your link into the space provided and your QR code will instantly be created for free on the right which you can then download as an image or use snipping tool to copy the image.
Once you have the image you can then add this to documents e.g. a PowerPoint slide, and when presenting your students can scan the code:
- Android – requires a QR code reader app
- IOS – uses the camera app
Once scanned they can log into Office 365 with their UCLan credentials and access the board you previously set up. They will see this view which can be viewed in Portrait or Landscape. This will enable students to collaborate in the classroom and share their ideas in a large group.
You could also set up multiple whiteboards for the purposes of working in groups, have QR codes for each and refer students to scan the QR code for their assigned group. Once tasks are completed the owner of the Whiteboards can switch between them via the desktop app and display them on a larger board. They can also begin to export them as PNG files and transfer the images to Blackboard spaces or Team sites for evidence and for all students to view.
By using QR codes to distribute your virtual collaboration spaces you are making it very accessible to your students who have smart devices. However, consider sharing the Whiteboard URL’s by other commonly used means, e.g. Blackboard. Some students may not use a smart phone and URL hyperlinks will enable their laptops/tablets to access them too.