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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Collaboration in G Suite – An Overview

G Suite for Education is a great platform for giving students feedback on their work. The apps in G Suite are also great for facilitating student collaboration.  Let’s look at how teachers can use G Suite for student collaboration.

A Quick Note

This post is meant for teachers who are almost proficient with or just learning G Suite. Additionally, this post contains nothing about add-ons, extensions, coding, or anything extra. Strictly G Suite.

Sharing (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

G Suite allows sharing in which collaborators can receive edit access.

Give a collaborator edit access
Give a collaborator edit access

Collaborators can also receive “Can comment” access that allows for commenting in a doc, spreadsheet, presentation, or drawing.

Give a collaborator comment access
Give a collaborator comment access

Email Collaborators (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

Email collaborators is a great way for collaborators to communicate about a file they are working on. The person initiating the conversation need not open Gmail. They also get to choose the exact collaborators they want to send a message to. Click File>>>Email collaborators… to use this function.

"Use

Assign Action Items (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

Use the comment function and type a “+” or “@” with a collaborator’s email address to assign them an action item. That pushes an email to their inbox telling them they have been assigned an action item.

Assign an Action Item using Comments.
Assign an Action Item using Comments.

Suggesting Mode (Works in Docs)

In the Google Docs editor, notice the pencil in the upper-right corner. Click it and choose “Suggesting” in the drop-down menu.

Suggesting Mode in the Google Docs editor.
Suggesting Mode in the Google Docs editor.

Make edits. They appear as suggestions.

Suggesting Mode in Action
Suggesting Mode in Action

Collaborators can approve or reject suggestions by checking “✔️” or “✖️.”

Collaborators can accept or reject suggestions.
Collaborators can accept or reject suggestions.

Version History (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

Version history is a great way for teachers and collaborating students to keep track of ongoing collaborations. Ever wonder which member of a group made a contribution to a G Suite file? Version history reveals all. Click File>>>Version history to access a detailed history of all edits to a G Suite file. Version history allows editors to restore a version. This is a great way to save the day if one collaborator has made many incorrect edits to a G Suite file/

Accessing Version History in Google Docs.
Accessing Version History in Google Docs.

Differentiation in Google Classroom

Let’s conclude with an easy way for teachers to turbo-charge collaboration in Google Classroom. Any post (announcement, question, or assignment) can be shared only with specific students even though the default is set to all students in a class. Have a look at how it works from Google’s The Keyword blog:

Google Classroom Differentiation
Google Classroom Differentiation

Teachers can use this to facilitate collaboration in two ways:

  1. Create a post that shares files only with group captains. Each group captain can then share their files with their group members.
  2. Create posts only for groups. This is not that difficult because of the reuse post feature. Use it to use the same post for each group with slight adjustments for each group.

For more information on differentiation in Google Classroom, please watch this video.

The Future of Collaboration in G Suite – Google Jamboard

If your district uses iPads or Play Store enabled Chromebooks, your students can use the Google Jamboard app right now. This online collaborative whiteboard is the new frontier in G Suite collaboration.  Have a look at me demonstrating it on my Chromebook. As you watch, please note – I now know what the lasso tool does. It selects elements on the screen, resizes, and moves them. It’s actually very useful.

Thank you for reading. If you would like to share your thoughts about collaboration in G Suite with me, please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney.

The G Suite logo I used in the image for this blog post.

Feedback for Students in G Suite – An Overview

Teachers and students in districts that use Google for Education have access to a free suite of apps, G Suite, to create and publish. But why use G Suite? Why not Microsoft, pen-and-paper, or go full tactile and have students use typewriters? The reason to use G Suite is feedback – collaboration too, but that is a separate blog post!

A Quick Note

This post is meant for teachers who are almost proficient with or just learning G Suite. Additionally, this post contains nothing about add-ons, extensions, coding, or anything extra. Strictly G Suite.

What is so special about feedback?

One of the most valuable interventions teachers can use with students is feedback. According to Hattie and Timperley (2007) feedback is vital:

…Feedback is one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement…The feedback that students receive from their teachers is also vital. It enables students to progress towards challenging learning intentions and goals.

– Visible Learning

Marianne Stenger shared research tips for providing students meaningful feedback in Edutopia. Number 2 on the list? The sooner the better. That’s where G Suite comes in. Here is a quick-and-dirty look at using G Suite to give students immediate feedback.

Comments (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

Comments are a great way to give students immediate feedback as they work in G Suite. Select text or an image. There are three ways to insert a comment:

Demonstration of 3 Ways to Insert a Comment in the Google Docs Editor

Use either of these methods and type a comment:

Animated GIF of a comment inserted into a Google Doc

Comments are even better when an editor is tagged in them. This sends an email to their Gmail. Tag an editor by typing “+” or “@” followed by their email address.

Animated GIF of an editor tagged in a comment

Comment boxes serve as spaces where teachers and students can converse. Here teachers and peers can give feedback about work.

Screen capture of a discussion in a Google Docs comment

Comments “disappear” when they are resolved. The good news is they never truly disappear. The “Comments” button in the upper right of the editor keeps a record of them. This is great for keep track of all feedback students receive, whether it is from teachers or peers.

Demonstration of Comments history in Google Docs

Feedback in Google Classroom

Teachers can add a private comment to any assignment in Google Classroom. This is what it looks like as a student:

Private comment feedback from a teacher in Google Classroom

Teachers can also give feedback for students’ answers when they reply to questions in Google Classroom:

Feedback on a student's reply to a question in Google Classroom

A nice aspect of feedback in Google Classroom is that it keeps track of the number of private feedback comments exchanged between student and teacher. What a great way to document the amount of feedback provided to a student.

Google Classroom keeps track of the feedback comments exchanged between teacher and student

Google Keep (Works in Docs, Drawings and Slides)

Google Keep integration is a great way to give feedback in Docs, Drawings, and Slides. One way to do this is to have comments ready to go in a Google Keep note, then copy-and-paste them into comments.

Additionally, Google Keep can be used to give students longer-form narrative feedback in Docs, Drawings, and Slides. To make the most of this strategy, create a label for each student and each assignment in Google Keep. That way, feedback can be organized by assignment and by student.

In Docs:

In Drawings:

In Slides:

Google Forms (Response Validation and Quiz Mode)

Response validation is a great way to give students a question they work on until they get correct. I love using Response Validation for digital breakouts. Simply use short-answer questions in Google Forms, click the three dots, and choose Response Validation.

Screen capture of Response validation in Google Forms

This is a great strategy for a math problem – students receive an error message until they type the correct answer. They know immediately if they are correct or wrong – instant feedback!

Animated GIF of response validation in Google Forms

Error messages (the red text above) are a great way to scaffold for students as they work on finding an answer.

Here I demonstrate to use Response Validation:

Quiz Mode is another good way to give students feedback in Google Forms.  Quiz mode allows teachers to give different feedback for correct and incorrect answers. It also allows for links to be added to answer feedback, meaning students can be directed to a resource to re-learn questions they answered incorrectly. Watch as I demonstrate:

Two G Suite Apps That Are Not Great for Student Feedback – (Forms?! and Sites)

Didn’t I just discuss ways to use Google Forms to give students feedback? Yes, I did. Forms is great for giving feedback when they answer forms their teachers create. However, when students create Google Forms, there is no good way for teachers to give feedback inside of Google Forms. The same holds true for the Google Sites (still called New Sites). As much as I love Google Sites, I wish there was a way teachers and students could exchange feedback inside its editor.

If you would like to share your thoughts with me, please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney. Thank you for reading.

The G Suite logo I used in the image for this blog post.