Just as I was starting my career in freelance edtech consulting, I was recruited to present at the BETT educational technology show in London. The presentation was on how to use Google’s Jamboard in the classroom. Having never heard of Jamboard... I had to learn a lot about it, very quickly.
After doing the research, creating the presentation, and getting the opportunity to use Jamboard on several devices, I do think it could be a genuinely useful tool in the classroom, especially for those in the pursuit of student-driven, collaborative, and interdisciplinary learning.
So, what is Jamboard?
Jamboard is a few things. First, it's a piece of hardware. A large monitor that serves an interactive whiteboard, designed for virtual collaboration. Google calls this the "Jamboard Kiosk." As a physical whiteboard, it has the feel and functionality of a standard whiteboard, including “markers” and an “eraser” that help you feel as though you are truly writing in ink (really, it does feel a lot like writing on a standard whiteboard.)
Making a touch screen feel like a whiteboard isn’t the point though, because Jamboard isn’t just the piece of hardware, It's also a software program, like Google Docs or Slides. There are a few different versions of this, each with different access to features - and you can read all about that here.
The software is what runs on the physical Jamboard, but it can also be accessed on any other device (like tablets, phones, or computers). This software is what makes the Jamboard uniquely different from a standard whiteboard (and much more valuable).
Here are just a couple of key features of the Jamboard program:
1. Drive Integration
With the click of a button, the Jamboard allows you to insert docs, slides, and pics directly onto your whiteboard screen (which Google calls a “jam”). Anything in your Drive, can go onto your jam.
The Jamboard can instantly transform your chicken-scratch handwriting into neat typing, if you so choose. Even better, it can do the same for your drawings, with Autodraw integration.
As I previously mentioned, Jamboards can be accessed on any device, allowing you to work on the same jam with people who are in different classrooms or schools. Plus, Google Hangouts are integrated into the program as well, giving you the option to video call with your collaborators at the same time.
Potentially the simplest, but maybe the most useful function of Jamboard. Each jam autosaves to your Drive, allowing you to revisit it later or share it with your class. Which means no more taking picture of the whiteboard! Or losing a great discussion to make room for the next class.
The features added to Jamboard create so many new learning opportunities within the classroom (and beyond). So many, in fact, that I decided to create a whole other blog post about them, which you should definitely explore.
At this point, you might be thinking, ‘this is great! but what will it cost me?’
The good news is, if you have access to the internet, you can start using Jamboard right now for free on the web version. However, I will warn you that the functionality is far superior on the android app and with touch screen devices. It is worth becoming fully aware of the differences between the web version and the app, and checking which you have access to with your school devices.
This means that whether you have the funding to purchase an actual Jamboard Kiosk, or not. You can still start using Jamboard as a file type in your schools and classrooms tomorrow.
Curious to learn more about how to use them in the classroom? Head on over to Part II: 10 Ways to Use Jamboard in the Classroom or Part III: Jamboard as a Discussion Tool.
*If you want to check out the full video I used to create my gifs, click here. If you want to create your own gifs using GIPHY, click here.