Jamboard is Google’s app for free-form collaboration and brainstorming. It is very useful for teachers because Jams save to Drive, work with Classroom, and add fun to learning. It even has some nice drawing tools.
Yet, there are some things about Jamboard that make it tricky for teachers:
- Unlike Docs, Drawings, Sheets, and Slides, Jamboard has no version history. UPDATE: As of March 2021, Jamboard has version history. It is limited compared to Docs, Drawings, Sheets, and Slides because it is not a “who did what” history.
- There is a twenty frame limit for any Jam. Many class sizes are well above twenty.
- Jamboard Jams start to glitch at around twenty collaborators.
Teachers should know about these concerns and still incorporate Jamboard. Here are seven tips for teachers wanting to try Jamboard for their students.
Tip 1: Create Jams in Google Drive Folders
Staying organized is so important for teachers. Create Jams in a unit’s Google Drive folder and it will always be there for future use. Go to the folder in Drive. Choose New>>>More and Google Jamboard.
Tip 2: Have an Untouched Original Copy
Once students have access to Jams they get messy. Always make copies for student use and keep an untouched original. Copy a Jam by right-clicking it in Drive and choosing “Make a copy.”
Or click the three dots in the upper-right of the Jamboard editor and choose “Make a copy.”
Tip 3: The First Jamboard Task is Independent
Introduce Jamboard to students with an independent task. Let students get familiar with Jamboard Jams before they collaborate. Teachers can use “Make a copy for each student” in Google Classroom to automate this process.
Tip 4: Be Explicit About the Undo Button
Introduce students to Jamboard by demonstrating its tools. One tool to emphasize is the Undo button found in the upper-left of Jamboard on the web. Be repetitive about it. Be annoying. So students can’t forget the Undo button. When it is time to collaborate and a student deletes an element, they will know to use the Undo button.
Tip 5: The First Student Collaboration is in Pairs
The next step is collaboration in pairs. Give pairs a task in a Jam. Starting collaboration in pairs sets students up for success in larger collaborations.
Tip 6: Collaboration in Small Groups
Jamboard is perfect for small group collaborations. Seven is a good upper limit for groups in Jamboard. Is there an ideal group size for Jamboard? I argue there is: five. Insert a sticky note in a Jam. Look at the color options:
Besides transparent, there are five sticky note colors:
Assign each student a specific sticky note color for notes they add to the Jam. This brings structure and accountability. This is the first frame of a Jam that assigns five students a specific color. Make a copy for yourself to save time.
What about whole-class collaboration? Using the right tool for the right job. Having thirty students collaborate in a Google Doc would get very messy. The same is true for Jamboard. Remember the Jamboard concerns raised in this blog post’s intro. Google Slides is a wonderful tool for whole-class collaboration. There is no slide limit and it does not glitch with twenty participants. Teachers can assign each student a slide or slides to groups. “Group 1 has slides 1-5, Group 2 has slides 6-10…”
Tip 7: Never Grade Jams on Neatness
As stated, Jams get messy. The app is inherently imprecise. Have a look at this Jam I created to show the unique features of the Jamboard mobile app:
Jamboard Jams can be a tool for assessment but neatness should never be a criterion.
Here are some more resources for getting started with Jamboard:
- My page of Jamboard resources, how-to’s, and instructional ideas.
- Julia Dweck’s Twitter. She shares the awesome Jams she creates.
- The Teachers Using Jamboard Facebook group. Many teachers share Jams they create with the group.
- Have a question about Jamboard? I may have already answered it in this blog post about Jamboard confusion.
What do you think? What activities will you create for students using Google Jamboard? Please comment below or tweet me, @TomEMullaney.