It’s no secret my new love is Jamboard. I began exploring it a little over a year ago. I liked some of the features: ease of writing, collaboration, and simplicity. I did NOT love some of the features: no revision history, inability to lock background, and some other annoyances. Yet, it became one of my favorite Google Tools.
Within the last four months, Google has been quietly updating Jamboard. First came the text and shapes features. Then came the ability for creators to lock a background. Recently, I discovered that a keyboard shortcut allows you to view the revision history. PC – Alt Ctrl Shift H; Mac – ALT Command Shift H
With all these updates, teachers are using Jamboard more and more. Last week I was able to work in a 1st-grade classroom and introduce Jamboard and MathReps to the students and teacher. We used a MathReps that the students could feel success. This way, if the tool was too much for them, they could at least follow along. Well, the tool was NOT too much for them. It does help that our students have touchscreen Chromebooks to use during distance learning (and yes, when we eventually resume in class instruction). The students had fun, the teacher learned about a few new tools, and everyone left feeling successful. Some students started pressing buttons (this is a good thing) and discovered the shapes tool!
Oh, my, word! I have been a fan of Jamboard this year. I played around with it pre-Covid-19 times. Nothing major, just getting a feel for what it can do. However, I have really started using it during this distance learning thing we are doing. Now, this picture may not look like anything special. Until you realize that two students are writing on it at once.
I had a few students stay after virtual class today. They wanted to get some extra help with math. Okay. I gave them editing rights. We discussed how to find a common denominator. Then, I had two of the students write the multiples. They each took turns finding equivalent fractions and finally, added them. The writing isn’t super easy as they were using a touchpad on their Chromebooks, but it was enough to be able to collaborate and solve.
I also enjoy the laser feature. While I am explaining or correcting, students can see exactly where I am. I was elated to find that I could assign a Jamboard to each student in Google Classroom. This really is an underutilized tool.
There are some drawbacks. It doesn’t track revision histories. So, if several people are on it, issues can arise. Not that 5th graders would ever do such things. Jamboard is not in Google Drive. You need to go to jamboard.google.com to create them. This is also where they are stored. However, if you recently opened one it will appear in your ‘Recent’ in Google Drive.It was pointed out by Melissa Hero that Jamboard is indeed in your drive. Another thing to watch out for is if several people are writing on a post it or dropping an image, they will all drop in the same location. Unlike a tool like Padlet where each new response is in it’s own location. This can get messy. I recommend when setting it up, assign students to a page using the post it tool.
Over the summer I read an article about this. I was intrigued. I contacted my district’s tech person. After several tries (apparently there is a small checkbox or toggle that was causing an issue), he got it working for me and my students!
I had been thinking about potential uses in the classroom. One idea I had was to use it as a collection tool in the same way many of us use Padlet. I love Padlet but I am a teacher. What I mean by that is that I can now only have 5 for free. If I want to create more, I need to purchase the premium version. I don’t use it enough to justify the cost.
Then this week happened. The week before Winter Break. The week we teachers try to keep it together. So, I did a bit of experimenting. Each year I have students create ninjas using Google Draw. I am 1/2 of TLC Ninja after all. This year’s ninjas were awesome! My favorite was the Ninja Avengers. Normally, I would collect and display them on Padlet. However, I decided to experiment with Jamboard. I did a bit of prep with my class. I told them that all this could go terribly wrong. They were up for the challenge and did NOT disappoint.
After creating our ninjas, we downloaded them as JPEG files. I then set up the Jamboard so that 5 ninjas were on one jam, thus creating a total of 5 jams for the ninjas. The class was super respectful of each other’s work. I was so happy!
That is not to say that the process wasn’t without its pitfalls. First of all, one of my darlings kept selecting the > on the top of the Jamboard which, at one point, created 28 jams. Secondly, all uploaded images upload in the center of the jam. Fortunately, I was demonstrating when a student uploaded hers on the same jam as I was on. This allowed us to stop and see what happens. Great learning opportunity! That happy happenstance helped students to be respectful when uploading.
Overall, I’d say the experiment was a success. I would say it’s an ‘aight’ replacement for Padlet, not great but you can make it work. I can see other uses for Jamboard, too: exit ticket, voting, catch the pulse of the class, and brainstorming. I know there’s more, but like I said, it’s the week before Winter Break.