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Classflow and Google Canvas: Two Nifty Digital Whiteboards

In the third grade, I was involved in an uncomfortable relationship with my teacher's chalkboard.

Speaking without raising a hand, accidentally tearing a blue ditto worksheet, or any number of other relatively minor infractions led to her drawing a small circle on the board. The dissident student was called to the front of the class and instructed to put her/his nose in the center. If the incident was deemed especially heinous, the student would be called to the board before the circle was drawn so the teacher could sketch it just high enough that the perpetrator would be forced to stand tip-toed to serve out the sentence. To this day, I'm not a fan of the smell or the feeling of chalk.

Starting my teaching career, chalkboards made way for whiteboards and such punitive procedures were, thankfully, deemed barbaric. Nonetheless, whiteboard marker tips were notorious for getting pushed in and, if erased by human hands, the boards started looking nasty alarmingly quickly.

Now, in the digital age, we can start to replace some of what we do on whiteboards with computer screens. There are a lot of digital whiteboard options out there, but this post will examine two of them. They may just give you results so good, you'll want to put your nose on them!


Classflow presents itself as a collaborative cloud-based lesson delivery software. Users can write, draw, or type on a digital whiteboard and can push out the work to student screens by sharing a URL provided by the software company. Teachers have to create an account to get started, but once they do, students can access the material on their own devices. One drawback is the changes are not updated in real-time, so the teacher has to push every change out to students before they can see it on their devices. Classflow also has options for short class polls, online quizzes, and creating lessons. Currently, this software is free, but it looks dazzlingly nice so I wouldn't be surprised if there was a cost in the future. Check out the review video below!

Google Canvas

Google Canvas is a bare-bones version of a digital whiteboard. Basically, users have the choice between a digital pencil, pen, marker, or chalk. They can select different colors and thicknesses and can also start by importing an image to write upon. Like much of what Google offers, there is power in the simplicity of the product. Images cannot be pushed out to student's Chromebooks like in Classflow, but it's a good option for presenting ideas. Please note that Google Canvas is entirely different from the Canvas learning management system. For more, check out the short video below!

Which one is better?

As is often the case when comparing two pieces of software, the answer is, "It depends!" If you're looking for the quickest and easiest way to present information to students without worrying about your Expo marker drying up, Google Canvas is probably the road you'll want to travel. If you're looking for a thoroughly interactive experience that takes a little setup and, possibly, a little more troubleshooting, give Classflow a whirl.

Either way, if your classroom is equipped with a touchscreen laptop and a Chromebox you can wirelessly cast anything you write on these digital whiteboards from anywhere in your classroom without so much as a smudge on your finger or chalkdust on your nose!


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