What is an online whiteboard?

A whiteboard is more than a white board. And an online whiteboard is a whole lot more than just a whiteboard you can use online. Do you remember the days of chalk boards, squeaky chalk, and the clouds of dust the board eraser would throw out every time? Maybe that was before your time!

Whiteboards were chalk boards 2.0. Chalk was replaced by erasable marker pens which were much easier to write with and didn’t make nearly as much noise. The board eraser was also a lot less messy! But the functionality was essentially the same. You could write or draw on it, erase what you had done, and start all over again.

The step from whiteboard to interactive whiteboard was a large one. And online whiteboards go one step further again – and this step is huge. A virtual tool that provides a collaborative workspace where individuals or teams can work together remotely or when they are in same room, they are particularly useful in educational and corporate settings.

Virtual whiteboards are becoming increasingly popular in today's rapidly moving world, especially with the new remote or hybrid working, and virtual learning opportunities the Covid-19 pandemic opened up.

Everything you need to know about online whiteboards

Online whiteboards offer many useful features that make them a vital piece of technology that should not be underestimated. They can be used to present material in an engaging and interactive way that also enables others to participate and contribute to a discussion. They facilitate collaboration and teamwork, as users can work together using a virtual whiteboard and share their ideas in real-time. They can also be used to track and monitor the progress of learners in training settings to provide valuable feedback.

What does an online whiteboard look like?

Digital whiteboards are designed to resemble a physical whiteboard - a blank space at the beginning! They function in a similar way to a traditional interactive whiteboard, but are accessible over the internet and can be shared at any time with remote participants. They also have drawing tools that can be used to create text, shapes, lines, and so on.

Good ones will have the option to import images, files, and multimedia content, as well as the ability to create multiple boards or pages and collaborate in real time. They should be intuitive and user-friendly so participants can easily create and share visual content. And unlike real whiteboards, virtual whiteboards are not limited in size and the information can be saved for future reference.

When were digital whiteboards invented?  

Interactive whiteboards were originally designed for corporate settings. They were developed by the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (now a subsidiary called PARC) in the 1990s to be used in small group meetings and round-tables. They have been widely adopted by schools and the majority of them now use interactive whiteboards in some capacity.

Originally, interactive whiteboards were connected to a computer and controlled by the teacher or person in charge of the meeting. Now they can be used by many participants at the same time, and so they proved to be useful as a collaborative tool.

Who can use an online whiteboard?

Anyone with an online connection and access to a digital whiteboard can use one. As we have mentioned, they are particularly helpful in education and children can use them. They are easy to use and require minimal training, making them accessible to most, regardless of technical expertise. Well-designed visual whiteboards are intuitive and user-friendly.

Online whiteboards are often used in remote or hybrid work settings for team meetings and workshops, and in training and development. They can be used in real or virtual classrooms as they provide an interactive way to teach and learn. They help facilitate collaboration and idea sharing between people who can either be together in person or connecting virtually.

They can also be used as a standalone option for organising thoughts and ideas. If you want to gather together elements of a project you are working on, it can often be useful to get a visual overview of what you are doing. Digital whiteboards make this easy for you.

How are online whiteboards useful for collaboration and teamwork?

Online whiteboards provide a centralized platform. This means that everyone using the board can access it from wherever they are. Online whiteboards allow team members to collaborate in real-time, and this is particularly useful for remote teams. These days not all teams are in the office at the same time – in fact some are never in the office at the same time, or might not even have an office to be in! It can be difficult to ensure that everyone is working together and on the same page with certain projects, for example.

Using a digital whiteboard gives team members the opportunity to work together and add ideas, make changes, and comment on each other's work in real-time. This can help to avoid miscommunication or delays caused by different versions of things going backwards and forwards. Feedback can be shared in a clear and concise way. Online whiteboards can also be used to communicate progress updates and deadlines, keeping everyone informed and on track.

Collaborative tools and teamwork are at the basis of many innovative and creative ideas. Many businesses use the design thinking approach to come up with new products and services and solve problems. This utilizes collaborative tools and teamwork. Many of the key steps of the design thinking process can be enhanced with the use of a digital whiteboard.

Online whiteboards are a great tool for brainstorming and ideation. These are vital elements of the design thinking process and can lead to more creative solutions. The visual nature of whiteboards can also help team members use visual management techniques and see ideas in a more concrete way, making it easier to build upon them.

Teams need to stay organized and on top of their tasks and deadlines. Online whiteboards can help by providing a visual representation of them. They can be used to create to-do lists, assign tasks, and track progress, making sure that everyone knows what they need to do and when it needs to be done.

Why are some virtual whiteboards better than others?

Just like online whiteboards have many more functions than a large, blank, white board has, not all online whiteboards can do the same things or do them in the same way. Finding a virtual whiteboard that has all the functionality you need is important or you will be wasting some of its potential usefulness.

Your team needs to be able to ideate and collaborate effectively and efficiently. The more they can work together in real time, regardless of where they are situated, the better. For the design thinking process, for example, it is important that team members are all given the same opportunity to contribute and will know they will have their voices heard.

Online whiteboards can promote teamwork and collaboration

With a real whiteboard only one person has control of the board and what can go on it. It can be easy to overlook team members or deliberately exclude them and their opinions. An interactive whiteboard can work in the same way. Obviously, this option can be important, especially in a classroom setting.

We’ve all had colleagues that end up taking over a meeting or workshop because they feel more at ease speaking! Choose a virtual whiteboard that has the option to control the board or open it up to all depending on the circumstances. This will allow all the personalities to express themselves - from the shyest to the most extroverted!

Digital media and virtual whiteboards

Online whiteboards can display a plethora of digital content. For example, images, videos, and documents can all be integrated. Users can write, draw, annotate, move things around, highlight, and so on. And it can be saved, shared, and edited later if necessary.

It can be intimidating looking at a blank screen and somehow being expected to fill it up with interesting thoughts and ideas. That’s where templates can come in handy. Use a digital whiteboard that allows you to use a multitude of useful templates inspired from proven methods. You can get layouts that will allow you to get an overview of your latest projects, or focus on specific tasks.

Using templates on an online whiteboard

The design thinking process uses brainstorming as an effective way to draw out creative and innovative ideas from a team of people. Brainstorming templates can help significantly with this process, making it possible to run more efficient and productive workshops and meetings.

If you design products or services for your customers, you need to know who those customers really are and what matters to them. You can build up customer personas to help you hone in on what your customers are really like. You’ll find templates to help you build personas that can be used on virtual whiteboards, along with other creative tools that can be used in all sorts of collaborative ways: make sure you are using an online whiteboard that supports these options.

Don’t lose all the work you have done!

One of the downsides of a real whiteboard is the inability to save your work. You literally have to erase it all and start again. With interactive whiteboards you have the opportunity to save what you have done. With a good virtual whiteboard, you should be able to autosave your work and refer back to previous iterations of whatever you are doing. This means that the whole team can work better together, knowing that nothing will get lost or overlooked.

Where can I use an online whiteboard?

Online whiteboards are designed to help you visualize and collect thoughts, concepts, and ideas. They are predominantly used as a collaborative tool and when explaining or teaching. In a business setting, this is particularly useful. Many people in the business world are overwhelmed with meetings, workshops, and training and development requirements. We all need solutions that make collaborating and learning more interesting and interactive: online whiteboards do that.

For meetings and workshops, virtual whiteboards give the whole team the opportunity to participate in the same way. This will be the same whether they are in a room together or working remotely and all accessing the meeting from a distance. With the Covid-19 pandemic many teams have suffered from being based remotely. Being able to offer team members a way to build up that valuable sense of team and belonging is key. And it makes for more efficient working too.

In training and development situations online whiteboards can be used to make learning more fun and interactive. You can foster opportunities for engagement, active learning, and collaboration between people. Employees actively seek learning opportunities and being able to offer useful, relevant training and development will help retain the talent you have and attract applicants of the right quality. And people are more likely to learn and retain information better and more quickly when they are interested and engaged.

Make sure you have the best digital resources

The right online whiteboard and tools will help you increase collaboration and teamwork, whether your teams are together in person, working remotely, or collaborating on a hybrid basis. Using a digital whiteboard helps create engaging, interactive, and effective ways in which to work together and learn and develop new skills, products, and services.

Here at Klaxoon we have a digital whiteboard that offers all the tools and resources you could possibly need to help you build teamwork and collaboration. Why not check it out for more ideas?

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