Using Microsoft Whiteboard with Microsoft Teams

Nick Cornwall-French, Learning Technologist

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 theĀ Create breakout rooms in MS Teams post.

Accessing Microsoft Whiteboard

I’m using the Microsoft Whiteboard app, that you can download from the Microsoft Store. You can also access Microsoft Whiteboard on the Microsoft Whiteboard web app.

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.

A screenshot of the button to create a new Whiteboard
The button to create a 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.

A screenshot of the button to press in order to add a note to the whiteboard
Adding a note to the whiteboard
A screenshot of a note added to the whiteboard instructing students to draw the chemical structure for caffeine
My instructions for the students

Clicking the back arrow in the app, or My Whiteboards in a browser, returns you to the dashboard.

A screenshot of the back button to go back 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.

A screenshot highlighting the pencil icon to click in order to edit the whiteboard name
Click the pencil icon to edit the whiteboard name
A screenshot of the renamed whiteboard in the dashboard
My renamed whiteboard

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.

a screenshot highlighting the invite participants option for a whiteboard
Click the invite participants option

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.

A screenshot showing the sharing options for a whiteboard
Clicking the ellipses reveals more sharing options
A screenshot showing the option to post a sharelink to a channel in teams
The button to post the whiteboard link to the channel in teams

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.

A screenshot of the option to edit a message in teams
The option to edit a post in teams

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.

a screenshot of the option to create a sharing link to a whiteboard
The option to enable a sharing link
A screenshot showing the sharing link posted in a teams channel
The sharing link can be posted in teams as a message

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.

A screenshot of different elements added to a whiteboard, including images and PDF pages.
A selection of items added to the whiteboard

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.

a screenshot of the share icon in a teams meeting

A screenshot of the microsoft whiteboard window as it appears in the microsoft teams meeting share optionsUsing Microsoft Whiteboards in this way is a fun and flexible way for students to learn. Try it out in meetings or in your staff teams for mind mapping exercises, sharing ideas or just for fun!

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