As part of my sabbatical classes in Millersville University’s Online Teaching endorsement program, I’m reviewing NoteBookCast as a creative tool.
NoteBookCast is a completely web-based online whiteboard tool that allows two or more people to draw, write, and create on the same whiteboard space. It doesn’t even require registration to use it, which makes it particularly ideal for elementary school students. Registering for a free account does come with some extra features, however, that many teachers may find useful. For instance, registered account holders can save a whiteboard for later, and create templates to quickly create similar boards.
Because it is completely web-based, students can use it without installing anything…a plus for 1:1 Chromebook programs like my district has. A person “joins” a whiteboard by entering a unique alpha-numeric code, or by clicking a link that’s shared from the board creator. Elementary school teachers could potentially create one class account and make a separate whiteboard for each student group.
- Freehand drawing with a pencil
- Laser pointer that appears when you click
- Text box tool
- Board capture, which acts like a screenshot tool
- Three (3) erasers – erase drawings, erase images, and erase the whole board
- Three (3) shape tools – circle, square, and straight line
- Four (4) paper types – blank, lined, and graph paper with small or large squares
- Nine (9) colors for pencil and shapes tools, and three (3) line width options
- Image upload tool to add photos and images
- Online chat window for participant conversations
- No registration required to use all of the features.
- FREE (for now…that may change)
- Sharing and collaborating on whiteboards is simple enough for young elementary students.
- Completely web-based; nothing to install on school computers
- Chat conversations are recorded for accountability.
- Claims to work on any device, and it even provides whiteboard sizes for iPad and Galaxy Note (2014) tablet screens.
- It’s even compatible with my HTC 10 phone, though the small screen size was very difficult to work on.
- NoteBookCast is still in “beta,” meaning it could shut down at any time, and it’s expected that there are some bugs to work out…and there are clearly some bugs to work out as of this review!
- Some of the drawing tools lagged to the point of not working.
- I couldn’t get the hand tool, which I assume is for panning or moving objects, to work at all.
- No “undo” button. And it desperately needs one! I’ve already contacted the creator to ask for this, and if you’re planning on using it, you should too.
- Nothing can be moved, resized, or edited after it’s been “set” by clicking the green checkbox.
- Erasing images is all or nothing. A single image can’t be erased without removing all of them.
Best Uses and Final Thoughts:
I don’t see NoteBookCast being very useful for students creating a product or project, mostly because of the lack of an “undo” button. That missing feature puts a lot of pressure on students to do it right the first time, and that’s not supportive of a learning culture.
Where NoteBookCast shines is in instant, easy collaboration. I see this tool being very powerful for annotating an image, pooling ideas, and brainstorming with a partner or group. The quick set-up of a board or template and no need to register to collaborate make NoteBookCast an excellent tool for shorter learning activities that don’t need to be saved or edited.
If you have a favorite online whiteboard or collaboration tool, please share it in the comments and why you like it.