What makes watching news, sports or music so much more engrossing when it’s live? We enjoy that sense of sharing in a moment. It’s why we ask ‘Where were you when you heard…?’ about world events.

The virtual classroom is not exactly a world stage, but we can satisfy that same need to feel part of something happening right now. Research shows that students learn better when an onscreen instructor draws graphics live while lecturing rather than using readymade graphics.

Microsoft Whiteboard provides a digital space to come together, visualise, share and brainstorm as part of a class. Here are five reasons to use Whiteboard at UTS.

1. It helps students feel connected

Whiteboard can be used to foster a sense of belonging. Poll students with questions that they can upvote with a ‘like’. It’s great for icebreakers.

Something as simple as seeing the cursors of all participants scribbling and playing in real time makes everyone feel like they’re working on something together, live. It also creates opportunities for self-expression and individual ideas.

2. You can share ideas in real time

Students would prefer to see you highlighting or underlining your point live on screen rather than just presenting something you prepared earlier.

Microsoft Whiteboard lets the instructor and students draw and write notes in real time for the whole class to see. In the desktop version you can drop in images, scribble thoughts around PDFs and other documents, and use sticky notes and templates to plan and reflect.

3. It’s free and supported

Microsoft Whiteboard is part of the Microsoft 365 suite of applications, paid for by UTS. This means that Whiteboard is free and available to all UTS students and staff. LX.Lab can support teaching staff with any issues and provide guidance on how to use the tool in the classroom.

4. It’s secure

Whiteboard automatically saves all the pages in the cloud, so you don’t need to worry about losing information. Whiteboard isn’t accessible to people outside of UTS, but you can export a Whiteboard screen as an image file.

5. You can connect anywhere

Microsoft Whiteboard is available as apps for Windows (with more features), iPhone and iPad, or through any web browser.

If you use a Microsoft Teams class group, you can add Whiteboard as a tab for spur-of-the-moment drawing. You can even convert what’s on a physical whiteboard into an editable, digital whiteboard.

To login, go to Office 365 and click on the Whiteboard icon, or directly at app.whiteboard.microsoft.com.

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