When it comes to collaborative tools, nothing beats Google Jamboard. This user-friendly system replicates a traditional meeting whiteboard, allowing participants to share ideas and brainstorm together. The app is simple and streamlined in its design, making it easy for users to navigate and (dare we say it) even fun for working or learning remotely.
If your group is large, Jamboard has you covered: it can accommodate up to 50 people working on a jam at once! Whether you are using it to teach remotely, meet with a committee, or even map out the annual family holiday scavenger hunt rules, Jamboard is a collaborator’s dream. The ability to use a whiteboard with others in real-time – even if you are 500 miles away from each other – is something you will wonder how you lived without once you start meeting or teaching with it.
You will have no trouble mastering Jamboard after reviewing this tutorial, which walks you through each tool within the app and includes tips on how to use them.
Jamboard: Getting Started
Getting to Jamboard is easy, and there are several ways you can do it:
- Open Jamboard within your Google account
- Go to google.jamboard.com
- Open a new Jamboard from within Google Meet
Once you are in the app, you will see previous Jams you have created and saved.
Within the Jamboard app, you will see the tools menu on the left-hand side of your screen. These tools will help you write, draw, create, and communicate within the app. And if you make a mistake, you can erase it, too!
The pen tool is at the top of the menu on the left of your screen. If you click on the pen icon, a mini menu of choices will open up.
The pen can be used as a regular pen, a marker, a highlighter, or a brush. Plus, you can use one of six different colors to write.
The color choices are one of the best ways to keep your Jamboards organized. You can ask participants to use particular colors, perhaps grouping them by teams. Perhaps you’ve asked your students to plan a role-play session for a mock political debate, and you can ask the Republican team to write in red and the Democratic team to write in blue during the Jamboard session.
The eraser function in Jamboard is a fantastic feature, with one caveat: you need to set some ground rules for using it! In collaborative environments, you want to be sure no one’s efforts are either accidentally erased or intentionally removed.
Fortunately, if this scenario occurs (and you realize it immediately), the “undo” button comes to the rescue. (It is the first reversed arrow in the top menu bar).
If you’ve made more than just a minor error, you also have the option to clear the entire frame, which we will get to a little later.
Next in the list of tools on the left side of your screen, you will find the “select” tool represented by an arrow. You can use this tool to move or drag items around on your screen, as well as to increase or decrease sizes. If you insert an image (another tool we will cover), you can click on its corner with the select tool and drag it out to increase the image size.
The sticky note is located under the select tool, and you can also bring one up quickly by typing ctrl + shift + p.
Once you either open a new note from the tools menu or by typing the shortcut, a screen appears where you can choose the color of your note. It defaults to yellow – the color most of us associate with “real life” sticky notes – but you can also choose from green, blue, pink, or orange.
After you create your note, you will see three grey dots appear in the top right corner if you click on it. Once you click on the dots, you have the option to edit the note, duplicate it, or delete it.
These sticky notes are a great way to pop in with real-time feedback that you can delete later; for example, perhaps you want to communicate to a student who has made a few careless errors “Brian, do you want to take one more look at the debate points on this page?
I think you missed one from your earlier list?” Once the collaborator makes the necessary change, you can delete the note from the Jamboard.
Below the sticky note, there is a small box with two triangles (mountains), and this is the “add image” tool.
If you click once on this box, a screen will pop up with several options. You may have a specific image in mind, or perhaps you even prepared an entire folder of images on your desktop before you invited others to collaborate in a Jamboard.
If that is the case, you can use this image menu to pull the appropriate pictures from your own folders or Google drive.
However, if you are looking for something in real-time, as an idea comes to you, the Google Image Search automatically built into Jamboard really delivers! Say, for example, your team is working on a project to introduce measures to stop bullying at school.
And a “stop sign” suddenly pops into your head. As quickly as you think of it, Google can find it: enter “stop sign” in the Google Image Search line, and numerous choices will appear instantly.
When you click once on the circle, you will see eight different shapes you can automatically insert into your Jamboard. Each of the shapes can be manipulated with the select tool: you can make them larger or smaller and move them around to various places on the screen.
Like with the sticky note, if you click once on your inserted shape, you will see three small dots appear in the top right corner. There you will have the option to duplicate your shape or delete it.
Duplicating shapes can come in handy when you need to create a space for each participant in a Jamboard. For example, let’s say you create a rectangle for each of four participants to list their preferred name for the debate teams. You can quickly duplicate the same shape, spread them out on your Jamboard, and use the text box (which we will cover below), and type their answers into the spaces.
The text box is probably the tool you will use most often in your Jamboards, whether it is to insert your own text or create spaces for collaborators to write.
Once you insert the text box, you have plenty of options to customize it. The three dots in the right corner will allow you to edit, duplicate, or delete the box. It will also allow you to change the order, i.e., creating an order for layering objects in your Jamboard.
The text color, style, and alignment can all be changed with the buttons in the top menu (just like in most word processing programs), and you can use your selection tool to drag the corners of the text box in and out to increase its size, too.
At the bottom of the left-side menu, the tool is the laser pointer, which acts just like a laser pointer would in a classroom or conference room. It allows the user to draw everyone’s eye to a portion of the screen, but it ultimately disappears.
When you use this tool, you are moving it across a specific section of the screen, where it will be visible briefly, but then it will disappear.
Top Menu Tools
Across the top of the screen in Jamboard, you will see a number of other useful features, including:
- Zoom: You can zoom in and out to specific sections of your screen.
- Background: You can change the background of the Jamboard to a color, or you can even choose graph paper, among several different options.
- Clear Frame: This is how you can eliminate every item you have added to the frame in one easy click if, for example, your team has decided you need to scrap the ideas and start over. If you clear the frame by mistake, you can use the undo arrow to restore your work.
Also, at the top of your screen, the plus buttons will enable you to add more frames. You can number them and direct students or collaborators to fill out or work on a specific frame. Jamboard even shows you when someone is typing or adding content to a frame, with a small icon/initial in the area where they are working.
Finally, one more tip on collaborating with others: when you choose the “share” button at the top of your screen, you can insert contacts, and they will default to “editor.” This is what allows others to make changes. If you share and make them “viewers,” they will be unable to edit and make changes (which may be appropriate in certain circumstances for teachers).
Now that you know the basics, it is time to jump in and create your first Jamboard. You will get the hang of it in no time at all!