Google Jamboard – a great teaching tool for online maths learning
The Google Jamboard is an online whiteboard which you can share with your students when you are giving an online lesson. Everyone you send a link to your Jamboard can work on it and at the same time see what others are writing, typing, calculating, posting and creating on the screen - it is truly interactive.
I tutor maths and use the Google Jamboard with all my students from London to Dubai and Hong Kong. Here are
some of the things that make the Google Jamboard a great teaching tool for my individual and small group
What makes Google Jamboard great for tutoring maths online?
The teacher can see their student’s calculations as the student works through a question. In maths it is important that students learn to write out their calculations though many reluctant pupils try to get away with just giving the final answer! Using the Jamboard you can see the student’s calculations as they work on the shared screen, and so students have to show the steps they take to solve the problem. This also means you can follow a student’s logic as they work through a problem and spot any little errors instantly – even if you are in Sussex and the student is in Spain. Also, some students are unsure how to set out calculations and this is easily solved by dividing the Jamboard screen so you can work in parallel with the student, step by step through some questions.
If you are teaching a group of students you can differentiate work for individual pupils. With Google Jamboard different students can work on different pages - this is really useful for setting questions tailored to students’ working levels. If you set work on different pages and want to check up on your pupils, you can use the ‘bird’s eye view’ of all the pages to see, from a distance, what each student is doing and then choose the student’s page you need to see in detail. Incidentally, I would suggest naming each student’s page with a coloured sticky note from the menu bar.
Students can go back to the Jamboard to work on it on their own. Jamboards are saved on the Google Drive. Students can then access the Jamboard at any time to complete set work or look back at work. The teacher can also access the Jamboard at any time to mark work and leave comments.
(This brings big benefits but I can see how there may also be privacy implications when multiple students are sharing a Jamboard.)
Duplicating pages and Inserting additional pages if a topic needs more work. It is easy to duplicate a page you have created so that you have more space to do the calculations or you have a separate screen for another student to work on. It is also easy to insert a new blank page if you find students need more examples of a certain type of question.
You can draw straight lines. This programme helps you draw a straight line. You may think that this is a small thing to worry about but I have used another interactive whiteboard programme that has no way to make a line straight and I found this frustrating for teaching maths.
You can choose from a range of shapes. The menu lets you select a shape which can then be resized, rotated and moved on the screen. The shape can also be coloured or transparent. Shape options include a square, rectangle, circle, semi-circle and triangle – very useful for teaching shape topics but you’re on your own if you want a trapezium!
A range of page backgrounds including squares and isometric dots. It is useful to have the option of a squared background to write and draw on. The squared paper is also helpful for drawing graphs, although the squares are quite small and you may need to zoom in to label graph axes.
I think the Google Jamboard brings enormous benefits to online maths teaching but there are a few small ways
I can think of making it even better.
The ‘Even Better Ifs’
Moving page. Jamboard allows users to move page independently, and sometimes when I move onto a new page I forget to tell my students – this can lead to some puzzling answers to my questions! Jamboard lets you see which page everyone is on from the bird’s eye view but that is not something that I want open all the time and taking up screen space, and so I have to remember to say: ‘I am now on page ….’ This is a relatively minor thing but if there was a system where the lead person could have the option of having their page number on display that would be an ‘Even Better’!
Typing font does not include any frequently used mathematical signs or Greek letters. For typing maths text, it would be even better if there were maths symbols and Greek letters.
A special straight line tool. You can draw a straight line but it would be even better if there was a straight line tool that allowed you to draw straight lines and then resize and move them if you need to.
More shapes. It is great to have pre-made shapes you can resize, move and colour, but a few more to choose from would be even better – I still want a trapezium!
A background that has 1cm squares. Ok this is not essential, but if I’m writing a wish list then some 1cm squared paper for school maths would be great! 😊
Google Jamboard is an easy, very flexible and truly interactive tool which is great to help teach maths online. The Jamboard can be used with Google Meet or another video conferencing platform like Zoom.
Students can use a mouse to write on the Jamboard but the best set up is when they use a tablet with a stylus pen. Using a mouse is fine but takes a bit of getting used to, whereas a stylus pen on a tablet is almost as easy as a pen on paper!
If you have any comments or want any more information on using the Jamboard, or any classes to learn to use it, please do email me at email@example.com
Links to Jamboard App: