Jamboard: Google’s Best Kept Secret!

A long table with five chairs. Text on the wall above the chairs reads, Jamboard: Google's Online Collaborative Whiteboard.

In October, 2016, Google unveiled their vision for the future of interactive whiteboards. They called it the Jamboard, and it began shipping to customers in May of the following year. The Jamboard has a 55″ 4K touchscreen display that includes WiFi connectivity, an HD camera, microphone and speakers. The $5000 price tag puts it out of reach for many people, but the software that powers it is free for anyone to use, whether they have a physical Jamboard or not.

Getting Started With Jamboard

The Jamboard software is included for free as part of G Suite Education and Enterprise accounts. You can access it by going to jamboard.google.com or by clicking the icon in the app launcher while logged in to a Google service. You can also download a free app for Android or iOS. As with other Google products, Jamboard is collaborative and includes sharing options to control who has access to your boards.

To create your first Jam, simply click or tap the plus sign in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. This opens a blank canvas that you can use to start collecting your ideas. A variety of tools are available on the left-hand side of your board. They include:

  • Pen, marker, highlighter and paint brush
  • Eraser
  • Selection tool
  • Sticky Note
  • Image uploader
  • Laser pointer
Screenshot of the Jamboard website. Shows a graphic organizer that has ideas supporting the existence of global warming

If you need more space, you can add another frame by clicking the frame bar icon on the center of the toolbar at the top of your screen. From here you can also duplicate, delete, or rearrange frames.

Bonus Jamboard Features in the Mobile Apps

If you’ve used G Suite tools before, you will probably be familiar with the notion that the web apps are generally better than the mobile apps. However, in this case, the mobile apps have additional functionality that the web version does not offer. Features include:

  • Handwriting to text conversion
  • Shape recognition tool
  • Google AutoDraw
  • Insert files from Drive
  • Use the camera to capture and insert images
  • Add stickers
Screenshot of Jamboard on an iPad. Image shows a food chain with a worm, a bird and a cat

How to Use Jamboard at School

If you stopped using Padlet when they added their premium plans, Jamboard could help fill that gap in your toolkit. It can be used for brainstorming, either in small groups or as a whole class. Teachers can use it as part of direct instruction, or to create graphic organizers and share them with students via Google Classroom. The collaborative nature of Jamboard also means it is well suited to planning group projects like videos or digital storytelling.

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