DigitalWhiteboards: the good, the bad and the ugly
By Samantha Ahern, on 23 August 2021
Digital Whiteboards can be a very useful addition to your digital pedagogy toolkit. However, they come with a number of considerations. The most important of these is accessibility. For this reason UCL does not have any institution-wide licences for any digital whiteboards featured.. It was felt that there were too many accessibility concerns.
If you are going to use these types of tools you need to have a good understanding of your audience and know that it will not disadvantage any of the participants. If there is a risk of potential disadvantage an equitable alternative should be used instead. For more information about alternatives see the Digital Education blog post: Alternatives for Digital Walls like Padlet
The video below (run time: 32mins) provides an overview of 5 digital whiteboards, their key features and key considerations for use:
The above video explored the browser versions of the digital whiteboards. There are apps available for some of the digital whiteboards. However, these have yet to be explored.
- Miro and Mural
- Mobile and tablet (iOS and Android)
- Desktop (Mac and Windows)
- Interactive displays
- Mural and ConceptBoard
- MS Teams
Many of the digital whiteboards present a number of challenges for users. The key areas for consideration are outlined below.
See also the central UCL guidance on Creating Accessible Content.
Due to the vastness of the digital whiteboards, they can be difficult to navigate and it is very easy to become disorientated whilst using them. It is important to carefully structure the board whether you are using it to share information or for collaborative tasks.
- Make use of templates where appropriate
- Use section tools to segment the board for different activity or group zones
- Reduce the busy-ness
Colour and backgrounds
In many of the boards it is possible to change background colours and images, and use a variety of different coloured notes.
- Avoid using colour alone to depict meaning
- Is there a strong contrast between text and it’s background colour?
- If using a background image, can added items clearly be seen?
Much the same as any document containing text, consider the size and style of the font being used. Avoid use of italics and block capitals. Where required use bold text for emphasis.
Where available make use of presentation mode, this will enable both yourself and your participants to focus on the specific sections of interest throughout the presentation.