Tech Trumps® Friday Focus: AWW - touch-friendly online whiteboard app

My focus this Friday is on the app known as AWW - no, not an expression of sentiment when watching the latest Disney cartoon, but instead shorthand for "A Web Whiteboard". It's one of many of my Tech Trumps® that are particularly well suited for Collaborating and Differentiating, so if you're interested in those topics read on ...

What is AWW?

At it's heart AWW, or to give it it's full name A Web Whiteboard, is exactly what it says on the tin - it's a way of creating an interactive whiteboard simply by using a web browser. Imagine you end up in a teaching room with a just a projector and a laptop, with a click of a button AWW allows you to use your web browser as a replacement interactive whiteboard with so sign up required, no logging in, no fee - it's that simple.

As it's also touch-friendly, if you're lucky enough to have a touch enabled computer then the only difference is that you'll be drawing on your laptop screen rather than the whiteboard - which potentially means you're actually facing your students rather than having your back to them, not necessarily a bad thing with some classes!

As like all my Tech Trumps® AWW is free to use, but can also can be enhanced on a paid plan specially designed for teachers.

How can you use it in education?

Apart from its obvious value in allowing you to use an interactive whiteboard even if there isn't one in the classroom you've been allocated, AWW is also strong on Collaborating and Differentiating.

Collaborating

From a collaboration perspective AWW can help because the interactive whiteboard you are now using can be shared instantly, and even anonymously, with anyone else. This means that whatever information you are sharing with your students can also be annotated by them if you wish - AWW even provides a QR code generator so that students can scan the code and be automatically directed to the right whiteboard.

Say for example you're displaying an image on the whiteboard that you've found online, perhaps the water cycle, or a map of the western front of the first world war - something easily done with AWW. You could ask students to pair up and annotate the board based on the topic you're discussing, perhaps add arrows for the water cycle or key battles for the western front, and use their responses as part of an ongoing discussion. You could then clear responses and repeat the exercise after students have had a chance to explore their previous answers, which should - according to theory - help them to perform better.

A hand annotated AWW

Differentiating

Digital technologies can often help support differentiation in your classroom by allowing different students to engage with a challenge at different levels simultaneously. It's an aspect to digital technologies that has been referred to as their 'protean' nature, which wikipedia describes as:
"with the general meaning of "versatile", "mutable", "capable of assuming many forms". "Protean" has positive connotations of flexibility, versatility and adaptability"
From a differentiation point of view this is valuable as different students can work at their own level, and you can then assess their competence on the task in hand based on your knowledge of how well they normally perform - a sort of formative / ipsative assessment.

AWW is quite a simple tool, but nonetheless can be used in quite complex ways by using combinations of text, pen thickness, colour and uploaded digital imagery. As students work on their boards you can differentiate as you roam the room, for example by exploring with those who are making good progress ways in which to combine more complex representations of their thinking. Not all digital technologies are flexible enough in their design to allow this, but AWW is a good example of one that is.

So that's about it for AWW - a simple application, but one that fits a tidy niche amongst my Tech Trumps® .

Do you have any ideas for using AWW that you'd like to share? Please feel free to add them in the comments!

Would you like your own set of Tech Trumps?

Do head over to the Tech Trumps® to see AWW and a host of other apps, all rated against the key challenges you're focused on as teachers. There's an interactive version of the Tech Trumps® to explore, plus a PDF download version for offline use - or you can go old school, and buy a physical pack of cards for only £4.99 plus postage, which I'll whisk off to you by cow carrier as soon as the farmer has finished milking. Or alternatively first class in the next available post :-)

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