How best to emulate the use of the whiteboard in online lectures?

Demonstrating via hand written exposition is a powerful and essential teaching tool for many subjects. How then might we emulate this experience in the current online teaching scenarios?

Using a tablet might be the answer, as iPads, Tablets and Microsoft Surface devices all have built in tools to help replicate our teaching Pods, the short video from LEad’s Dominic Pates, Creating Learning Resources at Short Notice, explores how the drawing app, the camera and screen recordings on an Ipad can be set to work for us.

Inspiration, the examples range from professionally produced videos to simple teaching applications, but hopefully they will inspire you to get to get know some of the technologies involved. Technology can also offer new ways of teaching, with the ease of online collaboration tools you may be able to further engage with your learners.


Covid Graphic of Covid Explained on Med Cram
Covid on Med Cram

1 Inspiration The image is a screen shot from Med Cram, who use a lot of whiteboard movies to explain biology topics visually, you can watch this one about Coronavirus on You Tube. 


Teams and One Note
Teams and One Note

2. Drawing Apps – One Note This image is from a webinar on the topic run by Lancaster University, Using MS Teams and OneNote to deliver lecture-style content, it was recorded and you can hear from Andrew Smerdon how he has developed this over time into a useful system for teaching accounting and finance, eg you can see the tabs that he has used to organise a set of whiteboards on a module. One Note is part of Office 365 and is a digital notebook.

Microsoft whiteboard app
Microsoft whiteboard app

3  Drawing Apps Microsoft Whiteboard If it’s limitless size you need, then try the  Microsoft Whiteboard  app for ipad, that you can download onto your device, it offers many useful features pens, eraser, ability to add images and graphics and backgrounds, plus it can scroll, expand and contract easily. It does not get rave reviews, but it is easy to use for our purposes and has useful tools.


4 A hardware solution? Portable document cameras can capture up to A3 and can also be swivelled to be used as a web cam for demonstrations, they can replace the visualiser on the Pod?  At City staff are using the Hue HD Pro camera as a visualiser. Guidance on Using the HUE HD Pro Plus.


5 Devices: The Wacom Intuos tablet Medium size, is in  use at City by our Mathematics team. This tablet and pen can be used with a mac or PC by bluetooth and is a handy and low cost addition to your teaching equipment kit.


6 More Devices: If you have an Ipad Pro of Surface Pro you can use that as your tablet and run your session from there. You can  bring a device in to a session as a separate device and try collaborating if required. This video demonstrates this usingTeams and Microsoft Whiteboard and an ipad.

7 And there are 11 More whiteboard apps  in this blog post, a useful read when comparing features.


Considerations and Comparisons

Sizes and shapes

There are whiteboard areas in many online services, some are more useful than others, some are not available on the Ipad, some are limited in size to about an ‘A4 page’ and one claims to be infinite.

They also range in amount of features eg amount of pens, erasers, how they work with stylus controls, ability to change backgrounds, ability to bring in content, ability to copy and move sections, ability to change drawings to shapes or to change writing to text.

One challenge for teaching with whiteboards online is moving from a large whiteboard, up to 4 meters eg in B200 to an online solution which may feel a little restrictive in size.

Q: Are there other challenges?  

Devices to write with?

Many staff use a Microsoft Surface & pen or an iPad Pro & pen, provided by City via IT Services or their own device. At a basic level a graphic input tablet and pen can be used with a Desktop or Laptop computer, eg the Wacom Intuos 10. There are professional solutions from Wacom that are used in the Creative Industries, where the whole computer screen is used with a stylus. You can create content in drawing apps using any of these devices.

You can also use your ipad or surface directly as a whiteboard in webinars and teams, either by adding it as a secondary display or by visiting the webinar or teams meeting from it as a separate attendee, turn off the mic and speakers and use it only to demonstrate by sharing its screen.

A note on workflow and skills ( can you? –  record your screen, Copy & Paste, Top and Tail, Undo and Redo)

Using, making and sharing whiteboard materials can involve more than one software and online service and some steps in-between, LEaD are available to help guide you through the choices and processes to suit your needs and we have a variety of City supported software and services to help you share your work.

Q. What would you like to do? 


There are some skills that you may have or will need a little training in, LEaD can assist, it is useful to be confident in the following,

  • Running a webinar or team meeting online, in sharing your screen and choosing from different windows to share eg Teams, Zoom or Adobe Connect
  • Use headphones and a microphone with your device
  • Use a drawing app, try out different backgrounds and set up the pens, bring in images
  • Copy and paste, or clip web content to copy and bring in images or text if required

and for creating content in  advance,

  • Screen Recording: using a screen recorder and narrating over your  slides or workings eg Kaltura Capture
  • Editing a movie: making simple edits to chop out any unwanted footage eg at start or end ( top and tail)  or able to review a movie and note down edits needed

What more can whiteboard technology offer?

  • Saving and returning to whiteboard work
  • Recording live whiteboard work
  • collaborating with others online either handwritten, or use post it note exercises
  • Include images, graphics and text
  • Narrate and animate whiteboard videos in advance

Q: Which are of most interest?  

Live, shared or pre prepared or all of these?

The following tables are an early effort by LEaD educational technologists to organise the options in use and available to staff and students at City. They have been separated into live teaching and preparing a resource in advance. We expect to narrow down or expand the options as colleagues begin to deploy them and feedback to us.

Use the tables to help review what you would like to do and what areas you are already familiar with.

Thanks for your time,  Sandra Partington, Senior Education Technologist, LEaD.


Table 1: Whiteboards are everywhere but which  one is best for me to use to teach live online?

Combination Group Size? Review Can others write? Can it be recorded?



Microsoft One Note with Teams or Webinar. any

In use at  Lancaster University for some time, Andrew Smerdon uses One Note to keep whiteboards in a weekly order, students can contribute and he records the session.

Of note his students like the choice of playback speeds and he also adds auto captions, with a quick check of spellings. You can view the recent webinar recording to find out more Using MS Teams and OneNote to deliver lecture-style content.

Yes Yes Yes
Teams Meeting Whiteboard Meetings

You can write live and share and record in all teams meetings or chats.

Limited pens and space.

Yes Yes   limited use
Teams or Zoom (ipad only) Meeting device as attendee any

Good with Microsoft Whiteboard app or any drawing app of choice

Join the device as a meeting attendee or second screen.

Check App Yes  Yes
THE Microsoft Whiteboard app any This whiteboard has limitless space, a quick way to expand and contract the space, a range of backgrounds and pens, you can add clipped content and you can cut and paste sections of the board. Available on all devices as a down loadable app. Can use offline, but seems to like a connection. Yes Yes Yes
Adobe Connect whiteboard any being reviewed by ETT in May 2020 Yes Yes limited use
Zoom whiteboard Meetings being reviewed by ETT in May 2020 Yes Yes limited use

Table 2: Whiteboards are everywhere but which one is best for creating a resource in advance – from home?

Combination What can you do? Review Notes
One Note and Kaltura Capture Screen Recorder Use OneNote with a tablet – and record using Kaltura (and when giving a live session).

  • you can choose to have a lined page
  • can scroll back and forth
  • switch between tabs (for example for different questions).
One Note is available to City Staff and Students as part of Office 365 One Note is available to us all at City, but may need an introduction for the whiteboard teaching from regular users, it is certainly popular in the Mathematics Community and has been in use there for some time.

PowerPoint and Kaltura Capture Screen Recorder


You can record your working and your voice as a screen recording as you write or draw and create a movie to share in Moodle and in live online teaching. Size is one powerpoint slide at a time.


This combination is familiar and available to City staff.

In powerpoint you can easily prepare a storyboard and add images or text in advance. You can change the background and pen colour too.

Caution: Kaltura Capture does not have an ipad app (currently) but there is a built in screen & voice recorder in the ipad.

Microsoft Whiteboard and Kaltura Capture Screen Recorder

Using this app you can step through your working and record your narration over the top.

You can record your working and your voice as a screen recording and create a whiteboard movie to share in Moodle and in live online teaching

Microsoft Whiteboard and Kaltura Capture are available to City staff.

This whiteboard has limitless space, a quick way to expand and contract the space, a range of backgrounds and pens, you can add clipped content and you can cut and paste sections of the board.

Plus you can create a sequence, then step through it one pen stoke at time (using redo and undo) and add your narration.

Drawing app and Kaltura Capture Screen Recorder With a drawing app of your choice, you can record your working and your voice as a screen recording and create a whiteboard movie to share in Moodle and in live online teaching. Kaltura Capture is available to City staff and Students. Most drawing or note making apps have redo and undo arrows that will take you back and forth through your working
Adobe Connect You can swap between a powerpoint or document and whiteboard input (various) and /or include a pre recorded whiteboard movie. Adobe Connect is available to City staff -on request Planning is required and assembling your content and a script or notes. Then set off as a webinar host without any attendees and record. The recording can be shared with students.



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One thought on “How best to emulate the use of the whiteboard in online lectures?

  1. Hi there – medcram example is awesome. Do you know what app is being used by medcram for drawing and story telling?


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