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The Jamboard Series Part IV: Why Can't I Access All The Jamboard Features?

When I go around the country training with Google for Education one of my favorite sessions to deliver is Jamboard. It is super fun and interactive, and I am getting an really positive response from teachers who are thinking of fun and creative ways to use Jamboard in the classroom.

I’m lucky that, when I deliver these sessions on behalf of Google, we get to use nice, new, convertible, touch screen Chromebooks - but many of the teachers I'm training then go home to Macs, PCs, and other (older) Chrome devices; and are confused as to why they can’t access all those cool features that they saw during my demo. I try be really clear about what Jamboard is, because technically it is three seperate things:

First, Jamboard is a physical device called the Jamboard “kiosk.” It’s Google’s solution to the digital whiteboard or smartboard. It’s a 55” display screen (which is smaller than most), but really neat to use and has a built in camera so you can connect the board with a Google Hangout Video call and do all sorts of cool things I talk about in this post.

The board was originally designed for business, the idea being that if a company has a New York office and an L.A. office, they could connect their Jamboards and have collaborative virtual meetings, and share and save the notes they take on their Jamboards. But because it was built for business, it was also priced for business - which means (in the UK, where I am at the moment) a board currently runs for about £5,000 - £6,000… not super accessible price point for education. There are some school that have purchased Jamboard kiosks for their schools (mainly a single kiosk or set that live in the library and can be borrowed by classroom teacher), but really you don’t need the physical kiosk to use Jamboard, because like any piece of technology, the device is just the hardware - the software that runs on it is an Android app, and Google has released that to be downloaded on any Android device for free.

Which mean, if you have a Chromebook or Android phone - you can download Jamboard, and use it just as you would on the kiosk. You can use the handwriting recognition, the Autodraw feature, insert files from your Drive, search the web, and apply it in so many ways in your classroom.

At this point, it is worth mentioning a few things:

  1. This is a program that is designed for touch devices, it does work with a mouse - but it’s not nearly as good. If you have a touch screen Chromebook, tablet, or phone to download it on - do that.

  2. If you can’t find the app on your school Chromebook, it’s because it is automatically restricted on Google for Education accounts. Just ask whoever controls your Google Admin Console to turn it on.

  3. There are a number of Chromebooks that do not support the Jamboard app because they have aged out of the service updates. Essentially, they are too old. :(

  4. There is an iOS app, but the features are much more limited.

If, at this point, you are disappointed because (like me) you have a Mac, there is a third type of Jamboard. Jamboard is also a web-based file type within G Suite. If you click your waffle in Google, you’ll now see Jamboard sitting in there with the rest of your core products.

You could also go to your Drive and create a new Jamboard file.

Or, you could go to and access it there.

You can do this on any device! As long as you are (ideally) on your Chrome web browser and have internet access, you can use the web version of Jamboard.

The downside? The web version doesn’t have all the features the app has. No handwriting recognition, no Autodraw, no Drive. It would still be good to use for some basic activities, but it is much more limited. Below is a comparison of (at the time of me writing this) all the features in the different versions of Jamboard:

Google is constantly updating all three, and hopefully one day the web version will have all the features as the app - or maybe you can just use this as an excuse to buy new Chromebook for your class.

If you are ready to get started, check out my posts on Jamboard features, and ideas on how to use it in the classroom. No matter the version you use, you’ll have access to the sticky notes feature and can do this Padlet style discussion board or app smash with Screencastify to make an instructional/informative video.

Jam on.

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