Online Workboards: ‘Seeing the students’ voices’ 

By Apostolia Michael (Adjunct Faculty)

Based on the concept of developing the 21st century skills, I had to search for digital tools which can enhance and facilitate both teachers and learners in education. It was important for me that learners have an active role in the (online/hybrid/face to face) classroom. Therefore, I decided to give my students options and ways out of the traditional, mechanical, way of learning and try some engaging online, in-class and out-of-class activities both before and during the pandemic. After trying out several tools I chose the ones I thought they were useful for my lessons. Among them, were the interactive online whiteboards or notice boards. 

Whiteboards/ Notice boards  

There are several online tools online that are all equally effective but the ones I extensively use are Whiteboardfi and Padlet. Students can use them both in – class and sometimes out of class, but mostly in – class. All boards are on the lecturer’s screen and in some apps, students only see theirs, so sometimes students develop their ideas more. Rooms or spaces can be created and locked and codes can be provided to students, so they can enter the specific rooms or spaces. They can draw, type, do maths equations, insert images, and react on their own or others’ boards. I found them to work well in my classes because these spaces can create an online community and they can give space to learners to make mistakes and progress and at the same time to collaborate and share ideas. Moreover, students can use their phones, as these spaces work well on mobile devices too. It has to be noted that in Whiteboardfi students have their own whiteboard, so they can work at their own pace and they can only see their own whiteboard- nothing else. By having their own whiteboard, I found out that students were more confident in asking questions and sharing ideas and, I could monitor on the screen and give instant feedback by typing comments on the spot. Of course, I use Padlet, where everyone can see everyone’s notes, in other concepts, and this is one of the main reasons, I use both these tools in different lessons.

Suggested Action plan – In-class 

  • I set up the whiteboards while planning my lesson and I give a name to the boards. I check the whiteboards and sometimes I add the instructions there.
  • As a start, I use them when we share answers or ideas or when we want to justify our answers- developing that is, critical thinking skills.
  • Sometimes, I encourage students, to write their own examples or develop their ideas more.
  • I monitor on my screen and give instant feedback and interact with the students.

Overall, I found online whiteboards beneficial for my classes and I will certainly be using them again, setting as a goal to use them in more creative ways. Indeed, these are among the tools which made my lessons more interactive and engaging. I would say boards could enhance autonomous learning but they can also be used as a means towards the formation of independent learners able to cope in these challenging times.