Using a whiteboard is an integral part of most people’s teaching and by using a digital whiteboard instead, you can continue to take advantage of this pedagogic staple.
Whether you are helping visualise abstract concepts, or trying to make your online seminar more engaging, try using the Microsoft Whiteboard with Microsoft Teams.
It’s possible to add images, PDF’s, Word documents and PowerPoint documents to a whiteboard, allowing students to create a digital idea’s board.
In this example, I’m going to be teaching a seminar on Coffee. The seminar will make use of breakout rooms where I want each group to have a go at drawing the chemical structure for caffeine.
I’ve already established channels for each of my seminar groups, you can find the instructions for doing this on the Create breakout rooms in MS Teams post.
Accessing Microsoft Whiteboard
When you open the app, you’ll see a dashboard of whiteboards that have been used in Teams meetings, or that you’ve created in the past. Otherwise it will be empty if you’ve not used a Microsoft Whiteboard before.
Create a new whiteboard for each group
I’m going to create two whiteboards, by clicking Create new Whiteboard.
When creating a new whiteboard, you’ll be taken straight into the whiteboard itself.
I’m going to add a note to each Whiteboard with instructions on what I want the group to do by clicking the Add note button in the toolbar.
Clicking the back arrow in the app, or My Whiteboards in a browser, returns you to the dashboard.
Clicking the ellipses on a whiteboard will open the settings. By default, whiteboards are named Untitled Whiteboard, to make it easier for myself to remember which group has which whiteboard, I’m going to click the pencil icon and rename them.
Now I just need to share them to the groups in MS Teams. As part of my setup for the breakout rooms, I’ve created a channel for each group, so this is where I’ll be sharing the link to the whiteboard.
Sharing with “Post to Teams”
On the Whiteboards dashboard, clicking the ellipses again reveals the Invite Participants option. A list appears to show current users who have access, and a button to add more.
At the top of this list is another ellipses which when clicked will reveal the option to Post to teams. You’ll see a list of teams that you are a member of. I’m going to select my team, after which I’ll see a list of the Channels in that team. By clicking the channel for the group, the option to Post to that group will become visible, clicking this will share the whiteboard with that channel.
You can now go into the team channel and see the shared link! Depending on how you named the whiteboard, the default message may not be very useful. Luckily you can edit your posts in MS Teams by hovering the mouse cursor over the message until you see the emoji, and clicking the ellipses for more options and selecting Edit.
Sharing with a “Sharing link”
If you prefer to share the whiteboard another way, instead of choosing “Post to teams”, choose Create sharing link instead. This link can be shared via any method you like, and anyone at the University will be able to access the Whiteboard via the link.
Viewing the work
Once my groups have done the task, I can easily navigate between their whiteboards from the dashboard in the Whiteboard app or web app.
When in a Teams meeting with my groups, with their whiteboard open in the Whiteboard App or in a browser, I can click Share in the Ms Teams meeting toolbar, and choose the Whiteboard window from the sharing options.