Why would anyone use Zoom and Jamboard together?

For those of you that want students doing physics or math problems or something similar in class, let me share the approach my class used for small-group problem solving. I just finished my first remote-teaching class, and it exceeded my wildest expectations, thanks to input from my students in advance, their flexibility, and their forgiveness of my challenges in learning how to do this.

My class IRL includes extensive small-group problem solving. Translating these activities online had me worried.

Zoom logo

I talked with several students from my class in the past few days about how we would tackle doing physics problems online in groups of 2 or 3. One thing I learned is that most with whom I spoke wanted to use a second device (phone or tablet) for their sketches and writing of equations. With two devices, the small groups could talk and see each other on their laptops, while drawing sketches and working the math on their phones or tablets.

Zoom is our video conference platform. I decided to try Google Jamboard for the sketching / scribbling part. Jamboard works much like Zoom whiteboard, but with twenty tabs. I split the class into Zoom breakout rooms, and each group chatted in Zoom while working together on their own tab of the Jamboard. I could move from one breakout room to another, flipping to the breakout group’s Jamboard tab as I changed rooms. That way I could see whether they were stuck or going down the wrong path; if so I asked leading questions or offered hints to get the group back on track — just as I did IRL! The first physics problem took around 15 minutes, and all groups finished within two or three minutes of the rest.

Some students used phones, some used tablets, and a couple used Jamboard in their browser, writing with their mouse. Most of the writing was not pretty, but it was all readable and “good enough.” I expect it will get better.

Why Jamboard instead of Zoom whiteboard?

Jamboard logo

This turned out to be an important decision. Most of the students with whom I spoke wanted to use two devices during class: their laptop for video conferencing and their phone or tablet — touch screen devices — for math. To use the Zoom whiteboard on a second device would have meant each student joining our Zoom session twice. Not good.

  1. That would double the number of participants, cluttering the session, and
  2. I have no confidence Zoom would automatically group each student and their doppleganger into the same breakout room.

So I decided that using Zoom for the video conference function and Jamboard for the scratchpad. That made for a much better student experience. Another big plus for Jamboard is you can paste images on any tab. That is a great way for students to have an image of the problem in front of them as they work.

Class this morning went pretty well. Feedback from my students was encouraging. I survived. For the first day, that feels pretty good.

P.S. Kudos to Ching-Wan Yip of the Wake Forest University Instructional Technology Group for introducing me to Jamboard.

13 thoughts on “Why would anyone use Zoom and Jamboard together?”

  1. Very interesting ! Are Jamboard and Zoom compatible on the same device or do you absolutely need to use two devices ?

    1. Yes, they are compatible on the same device. I usually have Zoom and Jamboard both running on my laptop during class. It helps to have more than one screen, but it is not necessary.

      1. Dear all,
        forgive me, but I would propose a simpler solution.

        I teach foreign languages/German ab initio.
        That means I need to teach 4 skills each session (passive: read, listen active: speak, write).

        Our university uses zoom and a google drive. So I share my materials with my students on the google drive.

        When we have a zoom session, my students can go to break out rooms and simply collaborate on a document on the shared google drive.

        During my teaching presentation, I can also invite students to interact with tasks on the screen.

        Do you think my system replaces Jamboard, or does Jamboard have any capabilities that my system cannot offer?
        (no need for writing with a mouse – we write with our keyboard)

        1. I see no reason for you to use Jamboard over your current practice for your use case. In my class, the students are solving physics problems, which involve math and sketches of figures. Jamboard works much better than Google Docs for that, put for keyboard entry, I would do just what you are doing.

    2. I’ve also read (not yet tried) running Zoom as audio only for students to access both audio (Zoom) and visual (Jamboard) on one device.

  2. This is very encouraging. Can students in a breakout room who have created a document on a jamboard page then share that page back with the larger group in the main session?

    1. Yes. I usually share one Jamboard with the entire class. A Jamboard has twenty tabs, and I verbally assign tabs to breakout rooms by room number. Example: if I have five breakout rooms, room 2 uses tab 2 for the first breakout, tab 7 for the second time we breakout, and tab 12 for the third time we break out, tab N+2 for the N’th breakout.

      Then when we all come back together, any participant can refer the whole class to the tab where they did the work they want to discuss.

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