Alternatives to Google Jamboard which is to discontinued
Recently Google announced that they would be retiring Jamboard, so in this blog post, I thought I would discuss some alternative tools that you can use in its place. Firstly, Jamboard for those not familiar with it is a collaborative platform, that was part of Google productivity tools that provides users with a canvas that they can collaborate on.
The user could add Sticky notes, Images, Text boxes, and Shapes as well as draw freehand with this being done in real-time with all contributors being able to see what others are adding.
I have to confess that Jamboard has been my go-to tool for real-time collaboration, I liked that it was easy to use with a simple toolbar down the left-hand side and you could share as anyone with a link could edit. This made it very easy for students to gain access without having to remember another login.
I found it a great tool for checking students' retained or prior knowledge at the start of the lesson or as part of an exit ticket activity. I particularly like adding an image in the background so it could provide a structure to help the students organise the contributions.
On a separate note if a large company like Google can just switch off one of its tools with limited notice so can other platforms, my advice would be when using any of these browser-based apps is to ensure store a copy of your questions/ resources on your personal drive. So just in case the worst happens and they decide to discontinue their service you don’t lose your content.
So onto the alternatives, I suppose the most obvious one to start with is Microsoft whiteboard, it’s included with Office 365 apps is integrated with Teams, and provides very similar functionality to Google Jamboard.
I suppose my biggest challenge was with the fact that you had to assign it to a specific user group to provide edit rights as there was not anyone with a link can edit option. Now this may have changed more recently, but the thought of having to add all my 20 students has always put me off. If you get past that it has lots of great features including predetermined templates that you can use to provide some scaffolding for the students as they contribute their responses.
Here is my video guide for Microsoft whiteboard.
The second alternative is actually Google Slides you can go through, and adjust your canvas size to something similar to Jamboard, you can then add shaped, posit style icons and text boxes to the side of the slide which students can then copy and past onto the slide to make their contribution. Just like with Jamboard, you can set it to anyone with a link and edit and you can export the completed slide as an image or a PDF.
Here’s my video go to setting up Google Slides as an alternative to Google Jamboard. The video coming soon!
The third alternative to look at is Canva an amazing, graphic creator app. I usually use Canva for Creating thumbnails and social media posts but relatively recently they added a whiteboard feature just like Microsoft whiteboard you can add a template to help scaffold the contributions it is easy to share with your students and you can similar elements to those found in the other tools I have mentioned.
Here is my guide to Canva Whiteboard
My final, alternative suggestion is one that Google suggests that could be used in place of Jamboard and this is called FigJam, this one like so many tools uses a freemium model where you get three free boards and if you need more you have to pay for a subscription.
It has very similar features to Canva and Microsoft Whiteboard in that you can add a template in the background, you can also add stickers, +1, thumbs up and there is the option to have background music playing and a countdown timer which would be great for use as part of a lesson starter activity
Here is my video Guide to using FigJam
I am sure there are lots of other alternatives I have not mentioned, however hopefully if you are a regular Jamboard user who is looking for an alternative you now have some other tools to try. Because whether we like it or not Digital collaboration is a very important skill for our students to learn especially with the growth of remote working.