Whether it be in the educational scenario or possibly for a business use, an iPad whiteboard application can be very useful for project collaboration. You do have some online collaboration tools available, I believe there is one within Google docs. When you have a situation when two or more people are working together, it can be very beneficial to have a single workspace. An excellent use of iPads in the classroom. Basically what we are talking about here is a surface or a virtual surface that a number of people can work on at the same time. So this could be something like a brainstorming session, mind mapping where the collective mind is brought to bear. It is time to ask yourself should I get an iPad?
Collaboration software for the iPad
There are applications available such as Syncspace, Screen Chomp and Zigzag Board. Some of these work as online services where you send what you have worked on, in your hand drawn fashion, to a central server. You also have those that will connect to each other over a Wi-Fi network. These can be used in teaching situations where a group of students could create a document where every has had a hand in making it. Project collaboration can be a great way of working in a group to generate ideas, or just be a way to enhance the learning experience. It is perfectly possible that one student can explain a topic in such a way that it gets through to another student, that maybe had previously been feeling confused. The iPad has a lot of uses beyond reading free books for iPad. You have some great choices of Collaborative software available in the App Store,
You get a drawing space which you can zoom in and out of, that you can share in real-time over the network. All you need to do is to turn on the synchronisation and give the link to the document to the rest of the people in the group. Everyone will be able to see the drawing and also make changes using Syncspace.
You can add images to the background and then use the limited drawing tools to draw over the top of, or alongside them. So for example, the way that you could use this, is to have a number of images spaced out on your drawing area. You can then add typed text next to, or over those images, along with using your amazing iPad sketching abilities. There is a very limited palette of colours to choose from and only four widths of drawing line. Also you get to have a dotted line or a continuous line. At the bottom of screen you have icons which will take you to the full-size view of the drawing, or a fit to window version. There are also a couple of arrows you can use to quickly move up, down, left or right.
When you choose a picture to use in the background, you can resize it and rotate it. Once you have done that and put it in position, you can’t move it unless you delete it. It is possible to change the settings to have a plain, lined or squared background and you can also set the document orientation for how it will be seen on external displays or in shared images. You do need to decide on whether you want to work in portrait or landscape mode when you start, as you can’t rotate the whole of the image or have it rotated automatically. When I changed from portrait mode to landscape mode, the image stayed in the same position.
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Sharing your SyncSpace Document with Collaborative software
There is an icon in the toolbar that allows you to turn on document sharing and in the same menu you are able to invite by e-mail or iMessage. You can also copy the sharing link and send by any other means you have available. If you want to restrict who else can look at the document you may also set a sharing password.
You can also share your document out in other ways, such as by e-mail, as a PDF, Facebook or through Twitter. There is also the ability to send to Campfire, your Photo Library or open it as a PDF in a PDF reader.
I can see that this Syncspace application could have some useful specific uses as a collaboration tool. As a shared interactive whiteboard collaboration tool, Syncspace does have just about enough tools to do the job. Personally, I would like to see the ability to resize and rotate images at any time and I would like it to work better in landscape rotation.
Syncspace collaborative software for the iPad
In the latest version it has been made possible to find drawings that are nearby. There is external display mirroring if you want to have your sketching and notes displayed via HDMI or Apple TV. Even though this collaboration software is useful and easy-to-use, I get the impression that there is more to come in future versions. I would expect to see more tools added such as highlighters and the ability to draw shapes. The interface of the application will probably mature as it develops also. The price of it is $7.99, which I think is perhaps a little too much for it in its present incarnation. Have a look at other iPad collaboration applications to compare and contrast functionality. Check out the videos that show what these applications can do in the reviews available, for these iPad project collaboration apps.
The nitty-gritty of using an iPad whiteboard app
When you have mirroring enabled so that what you are doing on your iPad is being displayed on an external device like a television or a projector, as a teacher this would allow you to be mobile within the classroom. Teachers can use the iPad with an Apple TV and an interactive white board. This can be very useful when the typical back of the class type of student needs a close eye on them to make sure they are working in the class. It generally keeps the class on their toes if you’re not tied to the front of the classroom and is especially good on account of you not having to have your back to the class. Still it is true that teachers don’t have eyes in the back of their heads, despite what they may claim.
Also note that collaborative software applications such as Explain Everything and ScreenChomp will do similar job for you and allow you to record it at the same time. Useful for distribution of content and flipping the classroom approach where the student has more of an input to their own pace of work. Combine this with creating your own textbooks using iBooks Author and it all gets very interesting.