Clearing Up Google Jamboard Confusion

Google Jamboard is a powerful app for student collaboration and brainstorming. It has multiple ways for students to express themselves while collaborating in real time. From sketching to infinite collaborative graph paper, there are endless possibilities. Jams save to Google Drive. And it’s just fun to use.

But there is a problem: there is a lot of confusion about how Jamboard works. When I post about Jamboard on YouTube or Twitter, I often receive questions from teachers confused about how it works. This post aims to clear up the confusion using four questions I have received from educators.

Author’s Note: This post is not a Google-sanctioned message. It is my take on Jamboard. Google has neither edited nor approved this content. Google was unaware I wrote it. With that out of the way, let’s address four common Jamboard questions.

Don’t I need a Jamboard device?

This is the origin of most of the confusion. Yes, there is a Jamboard device. It is awesome. Kassandra Drey’s Twitter feed is full of examples of teachers using the actual device to innovate in their classrooms. What if your school does not have one? I have good news for you:

If your school uses G Suite for Education, you can use the Jamboard app for the same price as Google Docs: $0.00. Even if your school does not own a Jamboard device.

Tom Mullaney

According to the G Suite Services Summary, Google Jamboard is a Core Service included in G Suite for Education. Get started by going to jamboard.google.com to use the Jamboard web version (also referred to as “the Jamboard web app”). Do your students use iPads or Play Store-enabled Chromebooks? They can use the even more robust Jamboard mobile app.

Now that you have been directed to the Jamboard web site, you may have a follow-up question:

Why can’t I see Jamboard at jamboard.google.com?

Do you see this error message when you navigate to jamboard.google.com?

Google error message that reads:

"We are sorry, but you do not have access to this service. Please contact your Organization Administrator for access.

Sign in with a different account"

That means your G Suite Administrator has not enabled Jamboard in the G Suite Admin console. Please let your G Suite Administrator know that Jamboard is a G Suite for Education Core Service and request it be enabled. In the meantime, access Jamboard by navigating to jamboard.google.com when signed into your personal Google account. Once Jamboard is enabled in your school’s domain, you may have another question:

How do I share Jams with students?

The confusion here also stems from the Jamboard device. It is easy to imagine sharing from a Jamboard device to student computers and vice-versa. Forget the device when sharing Jams. Google Jamboard Jams are Google Drive files. No more, no less. Share Jams like any Google Drive file by adding collaborators or using sharing links.

Animated GIF of a Google Jamboard Jam being shared in Google Drive
Can you share a Google Drive file? Then you can share a Google Jamboard Jam!

Jams can also be shared in Google Classroom using “Students can view,” “Make a copy for each student,” and “Students can edit.” That last option is great for facilitating small groups collaborating in the same Jam using Classroom’s point-and-click differentiation. For more on sharing Jams in Google Classroom, please watch this video.

When students access different frames of a Jam, it is no different than accessing Google Slides. A Slides presentation is to individual slides as a Jam is to individual frames. Anyone accessing a Jam with multiple frames will use frame thumbnails at the top to switch frames:

An animated GIF showing how different frames of a Google Jamboard Jam are accessed.
Google Slides displays slide thumbnails on the left. In Google Jamboard, click the top to access frame thumbnails.

There is one more question to sort through. Its origin is something we touched on earlier – the Jamboard web and mobile apps.

Why was Jamboard better last year?

Prior to Fall 2018, users could not edit Jams at jamboard.google.com. In Fall 2018, Google announced that Jams could now be edited on the web. Prior to that, only the mobile version of Jamboard (available on iPads and Play Store-enabled Chromebooks) could edit Jams.

The web version of Jamboard is robust. However, it does not have some of the functions of the mobile app. These functions are:

  • Autodraw
  • Handwriting recognition
  • Shape recognition
  • Insert content from Google Drive files
  • Insert emojis

If you are using Jamboard and feel like it has fewer tools, it means you are using the web version and used the mobile version in the past. For a visual rundown of the difference between the Jamboard web and mobile apps, please watch this video:

Thanks for reading. I hope this cleared up some confusion. Still, you may have questions. Please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney.

Does your school, organization, or conference need professional development to help teachers make the most of Google Jamboard? Have a look at some of my offerings and connect with me on Twitter.

Photo by Fred Kearney on Unsplash.

66 Comments

  1. I can share my Jamboard with anyone in my household.
    When I try to share the Jam with students using their school student email accounts, the Jams fail to be shared.
    Would you have any ideas how to solve this issue?
    Thank you.

    Like

    1. Hi Diane, that tells me that your G Suite Administrator has not enabled Jamboard for students in the G Suite Admin Console. Feel free to share this blog post with them!

      Like

  2. Hi, I just started experimenting Jamboard with two online students this morning but I am not a school so I shared my link. The boy had to request editing rights even though I was sure he automatically had them with this link and on the email I received, I authorised it but it connected his email to the Jamboard. I also work with very small children and didn’t want to go through email accounts – isn’t it possible to give editing rights just with the link & no email?

    Like

  3. Thanks for the info on Jamboard. My school has G Suite but it seems that the version I have access to doesn’t have a lot of the features in Jamboard YouTube videos, like inserting a document from Drive. It only allows images.  This looks like an awesome app if we can use all of the tools. Why is mine different? Thanks for your help.

    Like

    1. Hi Brian, thank you for your question. Please read the part of this post called, “Why was Jamboard better last year?” I have included a video there that I hope you find helpful.

      Like

  4. I just had an issue where a teacher shared a jamboad to a google classroom assignment and when her students on their iPads in the google classroom app clicked the link for the Jamboard file, google classroom told them it was an unknown media type or file type. However, if they logged into classroom on the iPad through Chrome and clicked the link it would rediret them to the Jamboard app. Is there any way around that?

    Like

    1. Here’s my suggestion: On that screen where it says “unknown media type” see if there is a pop-out icon in the upper right. If there is, the student can click on that to open the Jamboard Jam in the app.

      Like

  5. Is there any way to create a board and lock what the owner puts on the board, but still allow students to add to it? Example: I share a board with a vocab word in the middle and ask the kids to leave synonyms on sticky notes. Is there a way I can prevent them from deleting/altering the vocab word?

    Like

    1. There is not a way to do that. Here is what I would suggest: Do that with Google Slides. Use the (poorly named) master slide (Slide…Edit master from the top menus) and put the word on the slide. Students would have to edit the master slide to delete the word. It is virtually certain that your students will not know how to do that.

      Like

    2. I do this by first creating content like the vocab word or a graphic organizer in Google slides and then download the slides as individual pictures. Then in my Jamboard I use the set the background feature and add the picture of the slides. This way it doesn’t move around and they don’t edit the backgrounds (or at least haven’t figured out how to yet;-)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Tom, I’m wondering why one of my students (out of twenty) can’t see what she is drawing in a shared JAMBOARD, however as she tries, I can see what she’s doing?

    Like

    1. I honestly don’t know. What I suggest: if the student is using a web browser: 1) be sure it’s Google Chrome on a laptop or desktop 2) Have them delete cookies, cache, and restart. If the student is using an iPad, be sure they are using the Apple Store app and not a web browser.

      Like

  7. I hope you can help me!!! I am so frustrated. I have used Google Jamboard successfully with Jams that I have created. I have two issues: I have purchased some pre-made Jams from TPT. When I go to share them with my students they cannot be shared bc the copy I make from the TPT keeps going to my personal Gmail which is not part of the network and cannot be accessed by my students. This makes my personal email the owner of the purchased Jam. I have met with the tech support at my school and we have gone through the steps to change ownership to my school email account and have had no success. How do I change where the jam goes when I make a copy of a purchased Jam so that my school email is the owner. It doesn’t come up as an option to pick which drive. Secondly, is there a way to combine a purchased Jam to a jam I created? I use these Jams to tutor kids who are home on their off days of hybrid learning and I group the Jams by class and we just move around. the pages. Thanks for reading…I know that was a lot hahah!

    Like

    1. Hi Mary,
      Thank you for your questions. A lot to unpack.Here I go:
      1) For the record, I strongly discourage use of TpT. There are many issues. Racism (https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/07/02/teachers-pay-teachers-has-a-new-anti-racist.html). Low-quality and plagiarized materials. I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of teachers paying for what districts should provide.
      2) Remember that Jams are just Google Drive files. No more. No less. For any Jam you own in your personal or school account, you can make your other account an editor. Once you do that, you can make that account the owner of the Jam.
      3) Your TpT Jams are probably going to your personal account because you sign into TpT with it. It sounds like you may have two accounts signed in to the same window in Chrome. This blog post can help with that: http://www.danaheimlich.com/2018/03/setting-up-chrome-profiles.html
      4) You can not import frames from one Jam into another. You can only make copies of Jams.
      I hope that helps.

      Like

      1. Thank you so much! Jeepers… racism?! I did not see that coming and will definitely explore that link. The allure of TPT is definitely time saving. I could make the boards I purchase but it would take a while:/. I am also thankful for the Chrome intel and will watch that! You have been very kind and helpful and I really appreciate your sharing your expertise with me. Because of this I am choosing to forgive you for using my least favorite verb: unpack! Hahaha:) Thanks again!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Tom,
    We are having an issue where students who’s family had enabled Google Family Link are unable to open or interact with Jamboards. The teacher in this case pushed out a template in Google Classroom, but the students are getting age restriction errors in those three cases. Have you run into this issue with Google Family Link users?

    Jocelynn Buckentin

    Like

  9. Hi Tom,
    We are running into an issue where students who’s family had activated Google Family Link are unable to use/access Jamboards. In this case, the teacher pushed out the template via Google Classroom. They seem to be unable to access due to an age restriction. Have you run into this? Thanks!

    Like

  10. Thank you for your helpful tips. I have successfully used Jamboards with my students so far this school year, but just recently, one student started getting kicked out of his jamboards. The other students can continue to interact with the same jamboard, but his computer shuts it down within a few seconds. Any ideas what may be going on?

    Like

    1. I’m sorry. I don’t other than these troubleshooting tips:
      Be sure you are using the Chrome browser
      Be sure you are signed in to only one account in the Chrome tab
      Clear the browser’s cache and cookies
      Try in an incognito window
      Restart your device
      Try on a different device.

      Like

      1. DOES JAMBOARD WORK IF IT’S INITIATED DIRECTLY FROM THE MEET? IT’S A RELATIVELY NEW OPTION IN MEET.

        Like

  11. Is there a way to adjust the settings in Jamboard so that students can contribute to the same board, but not edit each other’s contributions? I am encountering some students who are deleting other student’s work (intentionally or otherwise). Also – is there a way to see who is editing what after the fact? I have created Jamboards in meetings with students, and then gone back later to look at it, to find that someone had gone in after the fact and deleted much of the work.

    Like

    1. Hi Megan. The answer is no. My suggestion is to use Jams for small groups. Start in pairs and work your way up to 5 to 7 students max. That helps mitigate that issue somewhat. There is no version history in Jamboard. You can always share feedback about it with the Jamboard team. Please click or tap on the 3 dot menu and select ‘Send feedback to Google” to leave your feedback. The team reads all feedback it receives and prioritizes it accordingly.

      Like

  12. Do students need to have a Google account to use the Jamboard? I created a Jamboard inside a Nearpod but it won’t load when I play the Nearpod to my students. My students use office 365 to login to Nearpod, they do not have Google accounts.

    Like

    1. Hi Sandra, thank you for your question. Students do not need an account but then every time you share a Jam you have to make sure it is set to “anyone with the link can view” or “anyone with the link can edit.” It is much easier using Google accounts as with any G Suite/Workspace app.

      Like

      1. Thanks so much for your answer. I change the sharing options and it works now. But the only problem I am now having is that the background I set in the Jamboard does not show up when shared. Here’s a copy of the Jamboard I made. https://jamboard.google.com/d/1sR8DFe74z5kUmJUiz_nUj0jBuHObCwtxtqqZc6cLjQo/edit?usp=sharing
        It supposed to have an EDP chart in the background and when I share it in the incognito window it shows the sticky notes but not the background image.

        Like

  13. Hi Sandra, thank you for sharing. When I click the link, I see the EDP chart. I suggest having students follow these troubleshooting tips:

    – Be sure you are using the Chrome browser
    – Be sure you are signed in to only one account in the Chrome tab
    – Clear the browser’s cache and cookies
    – Try in an incognito window
    – Restart your device
    – Try on a different device.

    Like

    1. Thank you for the troubleshooting tips. We will try them. I too can see the background when I am signed into a Google account, it seems only to be an issue when I am not signed in to a Google account. Unfortunately, my kiddos do not have Google accounts, just Office 365. I think my workaround is that I am going to use the pen and draw the chart. Again, thanks so much for you help!

      Like

  14. Hi Tom – Is it possible to copy and export images posted on a Jamboard across to other Google applications eg. Google Slides?

    Like

  15. Thanks for this! If you give your class an activity where they all post sticky notes to the same jamboard, is there a way for me to view who posted each sticky note?

    Like

    1. You’re most welcome. There is no version history in Jamboard so this is not possible. Here is a workaround suggestion: Use Jams for groups of five students. Assign each student a specific color sticky note. “Rachel you’re green, Monica you’re yellow,…” etc.

      Like

  16. Is there a way to see who has edited what? I want to use Jamboard but want to make sure I know who is actually participating. I read that Control, Alt, Shift, H gives you the history of who edited it. However, when I try that it does not work

    Like

    1. I tried this today. I sent more than WHITE BOARD thru CHAT during one Meet.
      (The WHITE BOARDS are actually Jamboards)
      I had each student select different White Board.
      I could view what each student was doing.
      I know this method would not work for large groups or an entire class.

      Like

      1. I definitely prefer going small with Jamboard. Start with pairs and work up to groups of no more than 7. Five is ideal because then you can assign each student a sticky note color.

        Like

  17. Hi Vicki, thank you for your question. There is no version history in Jamboard. You can always send feedback to the Jamboard team by clicking the three dots in the editor. As for that keyboard shortcut, yes it did briefly work but Google never announced it nor committed to it.

    Like

  18. Hi Tom, thank you for your post. Is there a way to share a Jamboard via a link that will work with users outside our organisation? I know we can enter a user’s email address and share with them one by one, but when hosting a large meeting it would be useful to share it via a link. TIA!

    Like

      1. Thank you very much for the reply. I also found I needed to change our settings in the Google Admin Console to allow me to share outside our organisation. Thanks Tom!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I just sent 2 “white boards” right from the Meet. I directed each student to select a different “white board” ( which is actually the Jamboard). Each student was able to work on the jam independently of the other- thus I could see what each student was writing.
        Take care-

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Hi Tom, thank you for your post. Is there a way to share a Jamboard via a link that will work with users outside our organisation? I know we can enter a user’s email address and share with them one by one, but when hosting a large meeting it would be useful to share it via a link. TIA!

    Like

  20. We had an issue today where two students started a Jamboard in our Google Meet and shared it. It was also on the Meet as an attachment. Is there a way for the teacher to remove it from the Meet?

    Like

  21. Hi Tom –thanks for the great post! I have just started using Jam with my high school students, and at the moment we have a board going where students leave sticky notes when they want me to check their work, resubmissions etc. Some of the students forget to put their name on the note, and when I hover over it it doesn’t show ownership or version history–any way to see who wrote the note? Many thanks 🙂

    Like

  22. I notice I have many Jams in MyDrive that do not belong to me, and of which I am not a collaborator. Can you tell me why?

    Like

  23. Hi Veronica, where are you seeing these? In Google Drive? At jamboard.google.com? I would look at one of those Jams and see who owns it and the sharing settings to determine how you have access.

    Like

  24. How do I disable the function in google meets when we are not going to be using it? Students are opening them and it is now a distraction during my lessons.

    Like

  25. My Jamboard app displays ‘correctly – zoom = fit’ on the student’s Chromebooks BUT all the tools are not visible. The top tool shown is the eraser and the bottom is the textbox. They cannot see the pen! The zoom OUT is gray (it is already listed as fit = 23%). I tried changing the device zoom and went all the way to 50%. I opened and closed the Jam but it did not change appearance. All other tabs changed their zoom. Any ideas welcome.

    Like

  26. I found your answer on the community before the above reply arrived. I had tried the settings for the device but not the settings inside Jamboard. It does work but I cannot expect my students to do this before and after every Jamboard session. I opened an issue with Google. I think it is a bug. When the Jamboard zoom says it ‘fits’ the tool bar should be completely visible. If you agree please add any weight you have.

    Like

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