Today Google finally launched the “Jamboard” in the US, a new device which has been in development since last year. It’s the internet giant’s answer to collaborative whiteboards and has some pretty neat features like video conferencing, importing images and writing memos.
While targeted at business and enterprise customers, the board could have potential applications in the classroom as well. But at $5000 a board, and $600 a year for ongoing support and management, it doesn’t come cheap — and can be well out of range for many at small companies and educational institutes.
Fortunately you can get a similar experience without having to blow your budget on a new device. If you’ve got a computer or tablet, then you already have access to a number of real-time collaborative whiteboard apps and websites. Knowlounge is the most similar service to Gooogle’s Jamboard and best of all, it’s free!
Knowlounge as an alternative to Jamboard
While Knowlounge is primarily an education-focused platform, don’t let that put you off using it for your business. The free service is perfectly capable as a collaborative whiteboard for carrying out brainstorming sessions and remote meetings. While other free collaborative whiteboards don’t generally have teleconferencing facilities, Knowlounge lets you share your audio and webcam with others in the meeting.
Presenters can choose whether they want to give control of the whiteboard to other users, or lock it down, and user webcam views can also be pushed to full screen if desired. One unique feature is that Knowlounge has quiz/poll functions, which can be handy for collecting both ideas and opinions on agenda items.
Images, PDFs and YouTube videos can all be imported into Knowlounge easily and then annotated over. Because Knowlounge’s drawing tool allows a very low thickness, writing on forms and small spaces is easy too.
Like Jamboard, you’re not restricted to one whiteboard only; Knowlounge supports up to three pages for free or pay a mere USD $0.50 for an unlimited number of pages. 50c also removes the restriction on the number of participants on one whiteboard from 3 to 30 participants.
But what about a using it on a large whiteboard like the Jamboard?
Tablets are great for writing directly on the whiteboard with a stylus, but if you’re in a meeting room together you usually want a main board at the front of the room. There are several options for using Knowlounge in a group environment.
- Join Knowlounge via a PC and connect it to your meeting room projector or screen. Users can use their own tablets to write on their board right from their seats.
- Alternatively, use a graphics tablet to write on the board via the PC.
- Do you have a giant touch screen or smart board? Either of these can be used with Knowlounge. Simply connect to the meeting via your web browser and draw on the board.
The methods above can also be used to connect two meeting rooms together by both webcam and whiteboard, allowing for easier collaboration and less time trying to set up remote meetings.
Other features and privacy
Other features include memos, custom backgrounds and a ‘pointer’ tool which can be used like a laser pointer to highlight information on the screen.
If you keep the same meeting open, you can continue to use the same room number and link, making it easy for users to connect each time. Board content can also be downloaded as a backup or for records.
Live text chat is a given, and comments can also be left in meetings for others to see later, even if there is nobody online.
Knowlounge lets you set meetings to be private so that they’re not publicly listed. You can also take this one step further and apply a password to the room.
On joining the meeting, every user is asked if they would like to share their webcam and audio, and there is also the option to mute audio from others if you are in the same location.