Bring Collaboration to the Next Level with the Google Jamboard App

When Google debuted the Google Jamboard, it seemed unlikely a $5,000 piece of hardware had any implications for education. However, Jamboard was created to facilitate collaboration and to do so, Google created an Android app and an iTunes app so collaborators can participate in a Jam remotely. The app is free and does not require the Jamboard device to work. If your students have iPads or Play Store enabled Chromebooks, they can collaborate in the app tomorrow. Owners of a Jam can invite others to collaborate, just like in other G Suite apps and Google Hangouts can occur inside a Jam.

This post is about the Jamboard app, not the Jamboard device. The device is $5,000. The app is free. Now that we have that out of the way, please continue reading and consider ways the app could be used in your classroom.

To start, have a look at this video and imagine yourself and your students doing this not on a $5,000 Jamboard, but on an iPad or Chromebook.


Looks like fun, doesn’t it? To see what this looks like on a device and not the Jamboard, have a look at me playing with the app on my Chromebook:

Peruse this ThingLink for videos showing specific Jamboard app functions:

I enjoy using the Jamboard app on my Chromebook and showing it to colleagues:

After playing with the Jamboard app, here some ideas for using the Jamboard app in the classroom:

  • Use a Jam to document a group’s research for projects. If the teacher is added as a collaborator, they can give feedback using Jamboard’s emojis and Google Keep.
  • Divvy up topics in a unit to groups in your class. Each group is responsible for creating a Jam about their topic. At the end of the unit, the class can have a Jam Gallery Walk. Additionally, new students can catch up by being added as a collaborator in each Jam. That’s a lot more fun and useful than copying notes!
  • The shape recognition tool is very useful. In addition to converting scribbles into perfect shapes, it has the ability to draw angles including perfect 90° angles!
  • Use the Google Jamboard app’s auto draw feature to make beautiful storyboards! Thank you, Louise Jones, for this idea!
  • The Jamboard app was not designed for this purpose, but I have to say it is the best Android app for jotting notes on a Chromebook. I like using Squid and the Google Keep Android app for jotting notes but Jambord is even better. Jamboard has four pens, handwriting recognition, shape recognition, and auto draw.

    Google Jamboard Pens
    Four pens, handwriting recognition, shape recognition and autodraw.

More room to jot is always available by adding a new frame to a Jam. Simply click on the frames at the top of the screen to add another one.

Create a New Frame 2
Adding a new frame to a Jam. Like creating a new page when jotting notes.

The Jamboard app even has an embedded web browser accessible when jotting notes.

Jan 4 2018 7-40 AM - Edited
Tap “+” and then the globe icon to access a web browser.
  • Jams can be used as an artistic tool. One thing I have noticed as I play with the Jamboard app – Jams are messy! That is a good thing, but it makes me pause about assessing something made in the Jamboard app as a final product. The Jamboard app is probably better used as an ungraded collaborative tool. Not grading Jams might increase student engagement and focus on learning when using them. Having said that, students using the Jamboard App can produce some beautiful art. Witness my masterpiece, Sunset at the Beach:
Screen Shot 2017-12-26 at 2.33.31 PM
Created in the Google Jamboard app.

On a more serious note, just like Google Slides can render individual slides as images and whole slide decks as PDFs, the Jamboard app allows frames to be shared as images and whole Jams to be shared as PDFs. Just click the three dots in the upper right corner of the Jam:

Save Jam as PDF or Image
Share Jams as PDFs or individual frames as images.

I hope this post has convinced you to install the Jamboard app (links in the first paragraph of this post) and give it a try. If you would like to share your ideas about the Google Jamboard app, please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney. Thank you for reading.

Google Jamboard Image: G Suite with Google Cloud

Update 1/20/18: I was honored to share collaborate with one of my favorite YouTubers, Mark from Promevo in Google Jamboard. Watch as I use the Google Jamboard app on my Chromebook in San Francisco and he uses a Jamboard in Kentucky

Update 1/24/18: Google has announced Google Jamboard is now a core G Suite service available to education customers

Update 1/30/18: I was honored to collaborate with Kim Mattina in the Google Jamboard app on The Suite Show

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Five More Educational Android Apps for Chromebooks

As touchscreen Chromebooks with Google Play Store access become more common in education, Android apps will be a big part of making devices game-changers for the classroom. We are not there yet, but the future has great potential. I have blogged about five Android apps I like for education. Here are five more good ones.

Google Keep

Google Keep is the cat’s pajamas. It is great for brainstorming, to-do lists, collaboration, and feedback. Watch as I demonstrate the Google Keep Android app which comes with slightly more functionality than the web app.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Why doesn’t Google Keep’s web interface allow teachers to use their mic?
  • Webcam does not integrate for video.

YouTube

Why spend precious memory installing the YouTube app? The answer is simple – 360° video! Convertible Chromebooks act like windows into another world when viewing a 360° video in the YouTube Android app. Watch as I demonstrate:

Pros:

  • Enhanced ability when viewing 360° video.
  • Use that ability and Google Keep’s integration with Google Docs and Google Slides to give your students narrative feedback.
  • Ability to download videos.
  • The Android app works better than the web app when in tablet mode.

Cons:

  • None. The app is most valuable as a 360° video viewer and it does that job well.

Adobe Photoshop Sketch

In my previous post, I shared Adobe Illustrator Draw. That is a great tool. A more brush-centric tool is Adobe Photoshop Sketch. This app is so artsy it leaves brush strokes on the canvas! Watch as I demonstrate:

Pros:

  • Very artsy – it’s like painting without ink.

Cons:

Snapseed

Snapseed is Google’s photo editing app for Android. It has surprisingly robust features for a free Android app.

Here is another video where I play with Snapseed’s Head Pose tool:

Pros:

  • Great tool for manipulation of images – especially photos.
  • Watch what happens when you use the Head Pose tool!

Cons:

  • I can’t think of any. I’m Team Snapseed!

Science Journal

Usually, when I suggest a tool on this blog, I wholeheartedly endorse it. That is not the case with Science Journal. It’s worth sharing because it has great capability for capturing and organizing Science lab data. It debuted in Spring 2016 and it seems like Google has not been interested in it since. (Update: Google has recently published new Science Journal content. Yay!) Still, Science teachers should check out the Science Journal activities Google published in Spring 2016.

Pros:

  • Great tool for collecting and organizing Science lab experiment data.
  • Google has activities ready to go.
  • Ability to record sound.
  • Webcam integration.

Cons:

  • It is less useful on Chromebooks without a world-facing camera.
  • Google seems to have given up on it.

Thank you for reading.  Want to know if your Chromebook can run Android apps? Here is the list of Chromebooks that support Android apps. How would you use Android apps with your students? Please comment below or tweet me, @TomEMullaney.

Image sources:

Android logo (Wikimedia Commons)

Google Chrome logo (Wikimedia Commons)

Google Play logo (Wikimedia Commons)

Five Educational Android Apps for Chromebooks

Update (11/5/2017): I have published Five More Educational Android Apps for Chromebooks.

When Google announced Android apps were coming to Chromebooks, I was not enthused. Chromebooks are great for learners and teachers because of the Chrome OS’s simplicity and lightning-fast boot-up. I was defensive about Chromebooks and not excited about change.

My love of Chromebooks for education is not universal. Joe Wilcox, citing kids’ love of iPhones, argues, “The PC, whether desktop or notebook, is obsolete in the classroom… If the fruit-logo company doesn’t seize the moment, a competitor will—and almost certainly selling devices running Android.”

But what if Chromebooks incorporated Android apps in a way that did not compromise the OS while giving teachers and learners the best of all worlds – mobile apps, keyboards, and touchscreens?

I recently purchased the ASUS Flip C302 which has Play Store access. My wariness of Android on Chrome OS was mistaken. The Flip C302 is a dream. Everything works great, including Android apps.

Long term, I hope companies make convertible flip touchscreen Chromebooks with a world-facing camera above the keyboard. This gives the device full tablet functionality. ASUS has done this with its C213. Time will tell if these Chromebooks are iPad killers. In the meantime, here are five educational Android apps to consider using with your students.

Google Classroom

Google Classroom’s web interface is great. One thing missing is the ability to instantly embed content from a laptop’s webcam and/or mic. The Classroom Android app allows this:

Further, John Sowash documented the app giving very useful notifications.

Pros:

  • Very mouse friendly. It actually works better with the mouse rather than the touchscreen.
  • Ability to embed directions and content using the webcam and/or mic.
  • Enhanced notifications.
  • The Android app allows teachers annotate on student work and saves it as a PDF.

Cons:

  • Why doesn’t Google Classroom’s web interface allow teachers to use their webcam and mic?

Google Expeditions

The Google Expedition Android app renders beautifully on a Chromebook. I made this screencast with it:

Pros:

  • Teachers can search for and preview Google Expeditions from their Chromebooks.
  • Teachers can lead Google Expeditions from their Chromebooks.
  • Students can view Google Expeditions from their Chromebooks like they would with iPads.

Cons:

  • None I have encountered yet.

For more on using the Google Jamboard Android app on Chromebooks, please read my blog post, Bring Collaboration to Next Level with Google Jamboard app.

Squid

Squid is an Android app for note-taking, Math, and sketch-noting. Thank you, Robby Payne of Chrome Unboxed, for turning me on to it. Have a look at me trying it out:

Pros:

  • Its simplicity of use.
  • Graph and lined paper in the free version.
  • Annotate images in the free version.
  • Notes can be exported as PDFs, JPEGs, and PNGs for free.
  • Premium is relatively cheap – $1/month or $10/year.

Cons:

  • The highlighter is a premium feature.
  • Importing PDFs is a premium feature.
  • Writing does not work with the mouse.
  • On my Chromebook, the only input that works is “Finger,” meaning it does not recognize pressure sensitivity with my stylus.
Screenshot 2017-07-04 at 10.01.52 AM
Active pen does not work on my Chromebook.

Adobe Illustrator Draw

The Adobe Illustrator Draw Android app is a wonderful tool for art and sketch-noting:

Pros:

  • The mouse works for a lot of features.
  • It’s free!
  • So many beautiful options for colors, shapes, and brushes.
  • Images can be saved as PNGs – with transparent backgrounds if desired.

Cons:

  • Shapes cannot be manipulated by the mouse.

Google Jamboard

Google Jamboard is a $5,000 piece of hardware marketed at businesses. The device looks very fun to play with but at that price point, it is likely a non-starter for education. However, the hardware is powered by an Android app available for free in the Google Play Store. The app renders well on Chromebooks. While not perfect, it has great potential for students to collaborate in a fun way:

Pros:

  • Real-time collaboration.
  • Very fun!
  • Handwriting recognition.
  • Nice ability to clip anything from the web and add it to a jam.
  • Jams can be shared as PDFs and images to Google Classroom. This makes me hopeful there might be more education integration coming for the app in the future.
Google Jamboard exports jams as PDFs or images to Google Classroom.
Google Jamboard exports jams as PDFs or images to Google Classroom.

Cons:

  • A touchscreen is essential. The mouse does not play well with Jamboard.
  • The app renders nicely on Chromebooks but is not very useful on phones and rendered very darkly on my wife’s Samsung Galaxy Tab A.
  • Only five colors available for drawing.
  • Shape recognition not perfected.
  • Difficulty grabbing objects. Notice the difficulty I experienced in the video.
  • Google Drive files render very small.

Thank you for reading.  Want to know if your Chromebook can run Android apps? Here is the list of Chromebooks that support Android apps. How would you use Android apps with your students? Please comment below or tweet me, @TomEMullaney.

Image sources:

Android logo (Wikimedia Commons)

Google Chrome logo (Wikimedia Commons)

Google Play logo (Wikimedia Commons)