October 1, 2020

Remote student collaboration via Google Jamboard

Posted by Laura Guertin

For those conducting remote synchronous instruction in their courses, there is a non-stop quest to find ways to engage students during the live sessions. Having students collaborate with each other in physical classroom space through a think-pair-share prompt or jigsaw exercises or a gallery walk now needs to be modified for how these pedagogies can be carried out in virtual space. Features such as Zoom breakout rooms help instructors quickly create small student groups, and I recently learned of a tool that not only provides a platform for student to engage in those breakout rooms but makes it easier for the instructor to monitor student work.

Google Jamboard was originally designed as a physical display in a physical workspace, this smart whiteboard allowed for collaboration between locations via the internet. Now Google Jamboard has been designed to work in the cloud, allowing for creation and collaboration in our virtual classrooms.

I first learned about the online version of Google Jamboard from tweets posted by Dr. Brian Romans (Virginia Tech).



Dr. Romans posted an additional post as he continued to use Google Jamboard with his students.



I started investigating more of the features and thinking about ways I might use a Google Jamboard. I’m not teaching this semester (on sabbatical), but I’m doing several guest lectures in courses for various colleagues. As I was preparing to do a classroom session on science communication for a group of sophomores majoring in marine science, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to break out a Jamboard! I started the class in Zoom with a blank board for students to practice using the tools – textboxes, shapes, sticky notes, the annotation pen, etc. Then, we shifted to this icebreaker exercise I had already set up:


Screenshot of Jamboard that is an icebreaker

This was fun to see student markings populate the squares on the board, which also helped me emphasize and clarify different points I planned to mention during my session. This practice with the Jamboard also prepared students for an activity at the end of class, where I could easily follow their progress by seeing their collaboration on the board and not interrupt their discussions by entering their Zoom breakout rooms.

If you haven’t tried Google Jamboard yet, I encourage you to give it a try. This technology was quick to learn and set up (for myself and the students) and is another tool we can put in our ever-expanding technology toolkit this semester. Note that if you wish to use Google Jamboard and are looking for YouTube videos to learn more, be sure to look for the most recently-dated videos, as there are additions and improvements to Jamboard happening pretty frequently.