As we return to online teaching, we face the obstacle of missing the visual cues that come with face-to-face teaching. Normally we all eagerly wait for that ‘light-bulb moment’ when it all just ‘clicks’, however I now actually find myself missing the moments of confusion too! Seeing the confused faces of my students was a clear indication that perhaps they did not understand, and I needed to re-explain, the absence of this cue is very apparent with virtual learning. Encouraging students to answer your questions on the google meet chat can be challenging and often students will not offer an answer due to uncertainty or the fear of judgment from others. Thanks to ‘teacher twitter’, I have come across the website https://whiteboard.fi/, which creates a temporary ‘classroom’ that students can join and use their own whiteboard, providing teachers with an alternative source of instant whole class feedback. Students cannot see each other’s answers, and through making this clear to my classes I found that most students engaged eagerly whereas normally they may be reluctant to.
Classrooms created on the free account (no registration needed) are automatically deleted after a two-hour period of inactivity, so all you need to do is go to the website shortly before your lesson, click ‘Start class’ and a classroom will be set up for you. You can then share the link, code or QR code for this with your classes as these are all generated for you upon setting up the room. Once students join, you can see all their whiteboards together at the same time, as shown below.
Although I have only used this a few times myself, it has been incredibly useful for knowledge checks with quick questions or tasks when I would like students to draw/ label diagrams like the ones shown here. The website also gives you your own teacher whiteboard that you can show to students. A function I’ve found to be useful with the teacher whiteboard is the option to add an image to your whiteboard using the ‘insert image’ option, which you can then ‘push’ to your students’ whiteboards as a background. They then each have a copy and can draw over your image to add annotations/label/describe or whatever else you may want them to do. You can also use the standard push function so that each student has those images on their whiteboard with the ability to move their position, which could potentially be used as a virtual card sort activity. While I’m sure there are many more possibilities with this tool that I have not yet had the chance to explore, whiteboard.fi seems to be an incredibly useful in providing instant class feedback and I hope you find it as useful as I have!