Top 7 Remote Collaboration Tools for IT Startups

Remote Collaboration – you can’t do it right without the right toolkit.  As an IT startup and a company with two offices, we have a lot of remote collaborating going on. We’ve been looking for tools that are budget-friendly, easy to use and compatible with our versatile team. So, here’s our personal top 10 remote collaboration tools list. 

Remote Collaboration Tools: Communication

Slack

remote collaboration tools

Slack is that one tool we couldn’t imagine our workday without. It’s easy to use, it provides lots of integrations and it’s affordable. Actually, we are using a free version for our needs. We use it to communicate with our departments, get notifications from our help desk tool, and last, but not least – to agree on a restaurant choice for lunch.

At its core, Slack operates in channels.  A company can create channels to track and archive conversations around teams or projects. Another great thing about Slack is its search feature. Slack archives all conversations, so you can browse through your conversation history.

Skype

remote collaboration tools

We use Skype for communication with clients and remote collaboration with our freelance associates. It’s our go-to software when we want to add a human dimension to our communication with people. The best thing about Skype is that it’s free. Plus, it is widely used by business people around the world so you won’t have much explaining to do.

Skype provides audio and video calls between multiple devices. It also offers group calling up to 25 people. However, Skype does have some reliability issues. That’s when Google Hangouts enters the ring.

Google Hangouts

Remote Collaboration Tools

Google Hangouts is another provider of video and audio remote collaboration. It’s convenient because it’s free and you can enter it directly from your Gmail interface. We never had any reliability problems with it – so, that’s a big plus, too.

Apart from messaging and video calling,  Hangouts also has a feature called Google Hangouts on Air. It enables Google+ users to stream video calls live via YouTube.

Remote Collaboration Tools: Visualization

AWW App

Whether we want to share some ideas, visualize a workflow or make a  web page wireframe, we use AWW App. It’s simple to use and you don’t even have to register for a free service.

AWW App is a collaborative online whiteboard that helps you visualize your ideas, workflows or business concepts. You can invite as many people as you want to collaborate with you in real time. Premium version offers file uploads, unlimited board storage, and a voice communication up to 5 people for 10 bucks a month.

Remote Collaboration Tools: File Sharing

Google Drive

Remote collaboration tools

A brilliant remote collaboration tool that makes our lives easier. Google Drives offers a safe place for all our important files. A wonderful thing about Google Drive is that you can access your files from wherever you are. Whether you’re in office, at home or on a business trip.

With Google Drive, you get 15GB of free storage, good support and a massive collection of third-party apps. For most of the businesses, that’s more than enough reasons to fall in love with this remote collaboration tool.

Remote Collaboration Tools: File Collaboration

Google Docs

Remote Collaboration Tools

Google Docs is another popular remote collaboration tool from Google’s workshop. Our team uses it to collaborate on the creation of web content. Most of the time we use it in conjunction with Slack or Trello (see below).

Google Docs is a great tool for several reasons: it has tons of editing features, documents are auto-saved and you can export them in a variety of formats. And, let’s not forget to mention – it’s free to use.

Remote Collaboration Tools: Project Management

Trello

Remote Collaboration Tools

Trello is a massive help in our team. We use it on a daily basis to manage our projects and tasks. The visual structure of lists and cards makes tracking progress a lot easier. 

Trello is one of the leading project management apps and among the most popular remote collaboration tools on the market. Trello enables team members to discuss a project or a task in real-time. It keeps everybody informed through task assignments, activity log, and email notifications.

 

5 Remote Collaboration Hacks for Less Stress and More Productivity

Remote collaboration can be stressful. Whether you work in a virtual team or as a freelancer, you have to collaborate with people that are miles away, and sometimes even complete strangers. We have a lot of experience working in remote teams ourselves and we know how tricky it might be. So we decided to help you with these hand-picked remote collaboration hacks that will make your team insanely productive.

1. Go Beyond Written Communication

Communication is a multidimensional structure. It consists, not only of a verbal part, but also of nonverbal cues such as body language, the tone of voice, distance and physical appearance. In fact, it’s the nonverbal part that has the most power in getting your message through. The tone of your voice, your gestures and facial expressions are those that speak the loudest.

When you’re restricting yourself to written communication,  you’re striping your message from its full meaning. Even a badly placed punctuation can defer the true meaning of your message. Have you ever spend a half an hour writing an email, only to learn that your colleague has interpreted it entirely wrong? It happened to all of us. And it happens more often to remote teams.

remote collaboration tools
Remote collaboration tools. Courtesy of: atendesigngroup.com

Well, there’s a simple solution to this problem: whenever you can, ditch the written communication! There are plenty of visual and audio communication tools to help you effectively deliver your remote message. Video communication tools like Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom or join.me can bring your remote collaboration to the higher level.

There are also great visual collaboration tools that can help you visualize your message in real time. Collaborative online whiteboards like AWW App are ideal to get your remote team on the same page. So, instead of talking about your ideas – you can actually show them!

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2. Make Sure Everyone is Comfortable with the Collaboration Technology

You have found a great remote collaboration tool. It’s just what you were looking for and you can’t wait to share it with your colleagues! But, before getting too excited, you need to introduce the software to your team. It would be counterproductive to invite your team offhand before they know how to use the tool.

You can elaborate the instructions via email, but it is even better to invite your colleagues to try the tool themselves. Most of the collaborative tools have a free trial period or a demo. So, before making a commitment, let your team members play around with it a bit. If a majority of the team likes the tool, you can proceed with using it regularly. However, if they didn’t share your enthusiasm, you will need to make a compromise and find a tool that suits everybody.

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3. Get to Know Your Collaborators

Similarly to how you need to do a software preparation, you need to make your get-to-know-your-collaborators homework. You shouldn’t miss this step, especially if you have never met your collaborators.

If you’re a part of an international corporation, chances are you will need to talk to someone from another country or even different culture. In those situations, the name on the screen alone doesn’t tell us much. Learning the person’s gender and the correct name pronunciation is the minimum you should do before starting a live conversation.

remote collaboration team members
Getting to know your remote team members. Courtesy of: growingleader.com

Oftentimes you will need to know more than a hint of basic information about your collaborators – like a company position, prior work experience etc. If the person is your co-worker you can easily check its profile on a company’s webpage.

Should you need to collaborate with a freelancer for the first time, checking its LinkedIn profile would probably be the best go-to site to learn everything you might need to know. If you need information about specific groups of people, there are tons of specialized sites that offer such data. For instance, most of the freelance designers and artists have their profile on Behance. Here’s the complete list of the alternative professional network platforms you can use instead of LinkedIn.

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4. Choose the Suitable Collaboration Time

Working in an international company, you are probably going to have a remote collaboration session with a person from another country. Since different countries have different time zones, scheduling a remote meeting could be tricky. But, don’t worry – you wouldn’t have to do it all by yourself.

time zones in remote collaboration
Scheduling remote meetings within different time zones. Courtesy of: rbth.com

There are tools that can help you schedule a meeting at the best time according to your and your collaborator’s time zone. World Clock Meeting Planner or Timezone Meeting Planner are some of them. With a tool like Calendly you don’t even have to know your collaborator’s time zone, just let your partner pick the time that suits him the best.

If you’re gonna have regular remote meetings, it would be the best to establish a routine. It’s important to stick with the appointed time and day of a remote meeting, no matter how busy you are with day-to-day tasks. Discipline is a key factor for this system to work, otherwise, everyone will start to make excuses and soon you would have no one to collaborate with.

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5. Make Sure Everyone is Engaged

To hit the productivity sweet spot, it’s a good practice to give each team member a role. For example, the minute keeper will have to write down the decisions made in the session and the further steps for the next one. The facilitator should direct the flow and the energy of the session. He/she needs to make sure everyone is participating by encouraging team members to give their share of ideas.

The roles should rotate for each new remote collaboration meeting. That way no one will feel bored with getting the same task all over again.

 

Business Model Made Easy: Benefits of the Business Model Canvas

A businesses model is the Holy Grail of every business – a blueprint for your product and how you’re gonna deliver it. It can determine whether your business is gonna make it – or break it. 

Traditionally, every company had their business model written in a business plan. Yet, things have changed. 100 – page long plans got too clunky to keep up with a fast-moving nature of lean businesses and startups. Last decade a new approach has been developing, that fits perfectly with the new agile environment. It’s called the Business Model Canvas.

Elements of the Business Model Canvas

Before digging in the benefits, we’ll shortly go through the elements of the Canvas.

Business Model Canvas - Elements
Elements of the Business Model Canvas

1. Key Partnerships:  What can the company outsource to partners so it can focus on its key activities?

2. Key Activities:  What key activities company does to deliver the value proposition?

3. Key Resources:  What unique assets company has in order to compete?

4. Value Proposition:  Why would customers want to buy and use the product? Why is it different than other similar products?

5. Customer Relationships:  How do you interact with your customers through their “journey” with the product?

6. Channels:  How do you promote, sell and deliver your products to customers?

7. Customer Segments:  Who are your customers? What do they feel, see, think?

8. Cost Structure:  What are the business’ major cost drivers? How are they linked to revenue?

9. Revenue Streams:  How does the business earn revenue from the value propositions?

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Benefits of the Business Model Canvas

It’s Short and Intuitive

Unlike lengthy business plans, the Business Model Canvas fits on a single sheet of paper. We can divide the model scheme into three groups of elements:

1. On the left side of the model are product related elements outlined in blue. They represent all activities and resources necessary for a product delivery. Product-related elements create costs.

2. Colored green, on the right side of the scheme, are customer related elements. They represent all aspects of a product that customers are in touch with. Customer-related elements create revenue.

3. Previous two elements interfere with each other and create a central element – the Value Proposition.

Dynamics of Business Model Canvas
The interaction between Business Model Canvas elements. Courtesy of apf.org

It makes sense – right? This logical structure makes the model catchy and easy to understand. Plus, the visual representation and spatial layout of elements make the model even more intuitive.

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It’s Easy to Modify

This is the world of continuing changes. Especially in the business world. New technologies, market niches, customer needs…all of those affect your business model.  So, finding an easy way to adapt your model to the changes is crucial.

Imagine rewriting a 100-page long business plan. It isn’t a pleasant thought – right?  Well, the Business Model Canvas is certainly a faster way for updating your business model. It will probably take you under 10 minutes to completely rewrite your old model.  However, if you stick with a business plan, it will take you longer than that just to read the first two pages.

It Focuses on a Customer Value

As I mentioned in a previous paragraph, the central part of the Business Model Canvas is the value proposition. It represents the coherence between what you’re selling and what customers need. Most importantly, it should highlight the uniqueness of how you bring that coherence.

Characteristics of Value Proposition
Characteristics of a Value Proposition. Courtesy of Convert.com

If you can’t define a clear, concise customer value proposition it may be a sign of a bad business model. The value proposition is the most important part of the Business Model Canvas and you have to explicitly define it. So, if it turns out you’re not really sure what your proposition is – you can promptly react. You will get a timely signal to redefine your business model and avoid possible disastrous outcomes.

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It Works

The Business Model Canvas is proven to work – and not just in the startup environment. Mega companies like LEGO, Microsoft or General Electric are also using this approach.  They have all realized the power of this simple tool.

LEGO has revamped the entire business model using the Canvas.  Not only did they avoid the bankruptcy, but they quadrupled the revenue and brought back the love of the kids around the world.

LEGO Business Model Canvas
LEGO Business Model Canvas. Courtesy of G. Motter

Make Your Own Business Model Canvas

It’s time for you to make your own Canvas. Click the interactive canvas below and use the post it tool to add new or edit existing post-its. Zoom in for the details, or zoom out to see a big picture.

7 Reasons To Use Remote Meetings Whiteboard To Save Money & Time

Complex and cumbersome conferencing software is not only a costly investment, but it also lacks flexibility. That’s why more and more companies transit to another solution – remote meetings whiteboards! These collaborative real-time boards are easy to use and save a lot of money. Most of the real-time whiteboards also have a built-in voice communication solutions which give you a real feel of the face-to-face meetings.

How To Save Time With Remote Meetings Whiteboard

1. Don’t need to travel

You don’t need to actually travel to your subsidiary or a client’s office to have a meeting. Just share the real-time interactive whiteboard with your meeting colleagues and you’re ready to go!

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2. Don’t waste time on keeping meeting minutes

Since you’re all together on the same board, all your ideas and conclusions are visible in real-time. You can also save your boards for a later review in your dashboard. There’s no more need to keep meeting minutes or taking photos of an office whiteboard to have successful remote collaboration.

remote meetings whiteboard helps you on meetings
Stop wasting time keeping meeting minutes
3. Don’t wait for a feedback

Being on the same board creates an environment of an instant feedback. There’s no more waiting for a colleague or a team leader to answer your email or respond to your slack thread. Most importantly, you can give specific feedback, that leaves no room for misunderstandings or communication errors. It’s all transparent and available in real time.

Leave an instant feedback using a remote meetings whiteboard.
Leave an instant feedback using a remote meetings whiteboard. Courtesy of Velcom.by
4. Don’t waste time on staff training/assimilation

Assimilating to a new piece of technology can be really painful and takes a lot of time. Since collaborative real-time boards are very easy to use, assimilation period is much shorter than with complex software.

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How to Save Money With Remote Meetings Whiteboard

1. Cut travel costs

Business travels cost money. Sometimes thousands of dollars. When you’re using a remote meetings whiteboard you’re not only cutting the need to travel, but the travel costs, too.

remote meetings whiteboard cuts your business travel costs
Cut your business travel costs
2. Don’t buy expensive conferencing software

Remote meetings whiteboards are far friendlier for your budget than any conferencing solution. Moreover, monthly subscriptions are much more flexible, too.

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3. Don’t waste money on maintenance

No hardware – no maintenance. No maintenance – no costs. When you buy a subscription to a remote meetings whiteboard you also get an access to technical support. If anything goes wrong the support will fix it with no extra costs. However, if it doesn’t – you can always request a money refund.

These are the seven reasons why I find remote meetings whiteboards better for your business budget and schedule. If you have any other suggestions, I’d like to hear them in the comments.

10 Ways How Visual Collaboration Can Make You a Productivity Ninja

Many companies use visual collaboration tools when they deal with big projects. They involve people speaking different languages and living in different time zones. Despite that, they all have to work together. One of the most cost-effective and productive visual collaboration tools are online whiteboards. They erase time, geographical and language barriers. Check this 10 ways how visual collaboration whiteboard can skyrocket your productivity!

1. Allows real-time collaboration with people around the world

Let’s say you were working in a big software company with offices around the world. You have scheduled a business meeting with your Australian subsidiary, while your office is in the UK. So, you’re 10 hours behind them. As if that’s not uncomfortable enough, you don’t know how to explain their UX team what you’d like to change on the mock-ups they’ve sent last week.

But, what if you had a visual collaboration whiteboard? You could share it with a click of a button to your Australian team and make your comments in real time. You could show them what you’d like to change. And most of all, you would come to a mutual understanding faster and without frustration.

remote visual collaboration
Remote visual collaboration. Courtesy of: mindbowser.com

2. Breaks language barriers 

Images make sense to everybody despite cultural, geographical, ethnic or language differences. Imagine you’re having Japanese clients who don’t understand English quite as well as you’d like. You have sent them your project documentation written in business English. Unfortunately, their team leader had a very hard time understanding some of the requirements.

If you had a visual collaboration whiteboard, you’d map the concept using the international symbols and diagrams. The Japanese team would understand the symbology that you have visually presented to them and you’d avoid further misunderstanding.

visual collaboration tools break language barriers
Visual collaboration erases language differences. Courtesy of: rtrfm.com.au

3. Brings together people with different professional backgrounds

Let’s say you’re working on a web design project with team members from different departments. A lot of different professionals work on the project: marketing specialists, UX designers, front-end developers, graphic designers. Team leader asks you for an opinion as a marketing specialist. After observing it, you say you’ d like to change a banner copy. But, UX designer didn’t know that you were referring to a header, so he changed entirely different part of the page.

If you were collaborating on a visual collaboration whiteboard, these misunderstanding wouldn’t happen. You would simply mark the part of the wireframe you’d like to change, avoiding misinterpretations.

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4. Creates synergy 

Combining the audio and visual communication while collaborating you’re getting the most of your remote collaboration. Many visual collaboration tools, including online whiteboards, have built-in voice call systems. Using those tools on remote meetings and brainstorming sessions will make you feel as if you’re face to face with the people you’re communicating with.

5. Simplifies presentation of complex concepts

Studies show that visual communication is the most effective type of communication. People only tend to remember 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they read. However, they actually tend to remember 80% of what they see.

You have all probably heard the phrase: A picture is worth a thousand words. Showing your ideas to someone is always better than just telling them. That’s why infographics are so popular these days. Therefore, the visual collaboration will transfer your thoughts more efficiently and thus you’ll be more productive.

visual collaboration helps you grasp complex concepts
80% of what we remember comes to us visually. Courtesy of netimperative.com

6. Helps you understand a big picture

Imagine you were starting a new project and you got tons of project documentation. Text files are endless and reading them lasts forever. But, there is another way. With a visual collaboration whiteboard, a project leader can map out a visual concept and share it with a project team. The team can easily scan a concept and get a big picture of the project.

Visual collaboration tools help you see the big picture
It’s important to see a big picture. Courtesy of: huffingtonpost.com

7. Makes work in progress easier

Your team is working on a new design of your company page. You have mapped out the initial concept and sent it out to UX designer. But, every few days or so, someone from the team thinks of another change or idea to implement in the initial design. Sending new requirements and changes via email would be chaotic. Inevitably, the designer would misplace some requirements and wouldn’t implement them. Having your design concepts stored and available for editing whenever you think of a new idea, is a much more productive solution.

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8. Helps you handle urgent situations 

You work in a construction company and spend much time on sites. You are on your way to a new client, carrying a blueprint when your colleague calls you that he found a major calculation error on it. There’s no way you can correct that mistake anymore, except writing on top of it.

Not only that doing that will make the blueprint messy, but it will also make you look unprofessional. Visual collaboration tool would come in handy. You wouldn’t have to carry on a printed blueprint at all. You would have your tablet with a blueprint saved on it, and you could easily correct the mistake.

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9. Keeps you in the loop when on the go 

Whether you’re on a business trip or you work from home, you might want to keep track of your latest project updates. Visual collaboration whiteboard handles those situations perfectly. All your boards are saved online and updated in real time. You can access them via your personal computer or mobile device.

Visual collaboration tools help you when you work from home. Courtesy of: lab.securegroup.com

10. Inspires your creativity 

When more people work together on a single project, their imagination creates a synergy which sparks creativity. Individual ideas combine, creating new ideas, better and more creative. Visual collaboration between people initiates new inspiring ideas and positive emotions. Some colors even stimulate creativity. So, visual collaboration tools like online whiteboards can definitely boost your creativity.

Try out premium AWW online whiteboard completely free for a month.

Design Thinking Chronicles: A Beginner’s Guide to Productive Brainstorming [Online Brainwriting Template]

Brainstorming. A brilliantly simple concept for generating new ideas. No wonder it’s the most used ideation technique in a design thinking process. Yet, as simple as it is, not everyone is doing it well. In this blog post, we’ll give you a few simple suggestions for more productive brainstorming. 

Prepare the Brainstorming Environment

Before you start brainstorming, you need to set up some ground rules to be sure that everyone is on the same page. Here are five rules to create positive and motivational brainstorming environment.

1. No Negativity

There is a known brainstorming motto: No idea is a bad idea. Defer your judgment and stop your negativity. There’s no place for criticism in brainstorming sessions. Create a positive environment where all members can freely express their ideas.

2. Encourage Wild Ideas

Remember how every idea is a good idea? Well, then a crazy idea is the best idea! In the brainstorming session, nothing is too crazy or wild. Only after the brainstorming ends you’ll filter out unattainable or impractical ideas. 

3. Build on Other People’s Ideas

This is an advantage of a group brainstorming. By sharing their ideas at loud, other participants can start a real storm of ideas in your mind. You can build up ideas on other people’s proposals or combine two ideas into a third one.

4. Stay focused

No emails, no calls, no interruptions. Call off all the meetings and conferences. Turn off the sound on all devices in the brainstorming session room. You need to be fully focused on the ideas.

5. Everyone Takes Part

The person who guides the brainstorming session has to ensure that each member participates. There’s no hiding behind those loud ones. If there are introverts among brainstorming team, the moderator should engage them.

Brainstorming Rules. Photo Courtesy: Gavin O’Leary

Present the Problem

We have talked about problem definition in our last blog post. To be sure that everyone understands the goal of the brainstorming, you need to clearly define the problem.

Guide the Brainstorming Discussion

The main part of brainstorming is the ideation itself. Unless you want to end up in a chaotic clamor, this stage has to be guided. You can use one or more techniques to help you out through the processHere is a list of some of the most popular brainstorming techniques that will result in brilliant and innovative ideas.

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Reverse Brainstorming

This is a technique where you reverse the whole process of brainstorming. Instead of finding a solution to a problem, you are looking for any possible way of causing the problem. This is the most useful method when you can’t directly find a solution to a problem. The process looks like this:

1. Clearly identify the problem or challenge.

2. Reverse the problem by asking: “How could I cause the problem?”

3. Brainstorm the reverse problem to find reverse problem solutions.

4. Once you have gathered all solutions to a reverse problem, reverse them into solution ideas for the original problem.

5. Test these solutions.

Reverse vs Standard Brainstorming
Reverse vs Standard Brainstorming. Photo Courtesy: Eugene Shteyn
The Stepladder Technique

The Stepladder is another great brainstorming technique. This method helps you avoid falling into a trap of groupthink. Groupthink occurs when a group reaches a consensus without thinking critically about the lead idea. The method itself is very simple:

1. Group leader presents the problem to all the members of the group. It is important that he doesn’t direct the group in any way. Leave adequate time for each member to study the problem.

2. Form the initial group of two people who will discuss the problem among themselves.

3. Add a new team member to the group. The new member presents his/her ideas before hearing any previously discussed ideas.

4. Add another team member and repeat the process from the step 3 until there is no team member left to add.

5. Made a final decision after hearing ideas from all team members.

Brainstorming - stepladder
The Stepladder technique. Photo Courtesy: Rebecca David

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Brainwriting

Brainwriting is an easy alternative to the classic verbal brainstorming. In the classic version, each participant contributes with only one idea at a time. But, brainwriting allows each member to write down as many ideas as they want at the same time as others.

There is a modern, online version of brainwriting. It is carried out on online whiteboards, instead of their traditional counterparts. In the online brainwriting, every member participates at the same time on the same online board. The big plus of using online whiteboard is the possibility of remote brainstorming. You don’t need to be in the same office or even on the same continent. This is very convenient for international businesses.

Brainwriting vs Brainstorming
Brainwriting vs Brainstorming

Click the interactive online whiteboard below and start your own brainwriting session.

1. Click the tool menu and choose the sticky note tool

2. Invite other team members by clicking the invite/share button and have your creative juices flow.

3. Move sticky note by clicking it and moving it with the four-headed arrow.

4. Add as many sticky notes as you want by double-clicking anywhere on the board.

5. Change the color of the sticky note by clicking the sticky note and color wheel tool.

Crawford’s Slip Writing Approach

Crawford Slip writing is designed to generate ideas from large groups of people. Using this method you’ll be sure that everyone is participating and no one is dominating. The process is simple:

1. Present the problem to the entire group.

2. Hand out the certain amount of “slips” of paper to each participant.

3. Give participants the time to write down ideas. They need to write down each idea on a separate slip.

4. Collect the slips and remove duplicate ideas.

5. Assess the ideas.

Have you tried some other brainstorming method yourself? We want to hear them  – email us at dorotea@awwapp.com.

Design Thinking Chronicles: How to Define the Problem [Free KWL Chart Template]

Defining the problem is an integral part of design thinking process. It requires the clear understanding of the user’s needs and it’s often the hardest part of the process. Follow these practical steps and look at how we defined the problem with a help of Space Saturate and KWL Chart. 

Making a Good Problem Definition

Human-centered

You need to frame a problem statement according to the specific user and his needs. The human is in the center of the problem, so avoid defining the problem around a technology or a product.

Broad enough to allow creativity

Don’t be too specific about the implementation of the solution of the problem. Of course, you can’t build a spaceship if you are an interior design company, but try not to focus on the specific solution. Give yourself a space for creativity and various designs.

Narrow enough to make it manageable

On the other hand, don’t be too broad with your statements. It will cause the confusion about the clear actions your team members need to take. There have to be some constraints that will show you the right direction of the next steps.

Design thinking problem definition

A Problem Definition Process

I’m gonna guide you through the problem definition process that we have made in AWW app. The goal was to find out which functional and user experience problems are users facing while using different visual collaboration tools.

We decided that testing out tools ourselves will bring the best results. Firstly, we have defined the most common use cases with the help of our customers. Then, we have selected few most popular visual collaboration tools. We have rolled up our sleeves and tested three collaboration whiteboard tools during a three-day period.

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Since we got very broad results, we decided to focus on one specific use case. So, we selected visual concept building for developers. Then, we picked another three tools to test out. This time tools were more specific as well.

We picked up the list of online concept mapping and workflow visualization tools that were ranked as most used and best one. That enabled us to see and feel the same worries that users are facing when using certain tools every day. So, we ended up with the list of observations and suggestions from the user point of view. 

Space Saturate and Group

Space saturate and group is a method of bundling ideas, observations and experiences that you have gained in the first phase of design thinking process. It is a collage of findings from entire team gathered in one place.

Design thinking , Space Saturate
Space Saturate and Group. Courtesy of The Interaction Design Foundation.

We have made our space saturation on a separate Trello board. But then we realized that’s not visual enough, so we copied all our observations on a clear AWW board. Then, we grouped the observations and synthesized them in clusters. The result was a clear vision of the problem users are facing when using visual collaboration tools.

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KWL Chart

To visualize the path of our learning, we made a KWL chart inside AWW board.

Design thinking , KWL Chart
KWL Chart in Design Thinking: Visualization of the Problem Defining Process

The above KWL chart shows what we had known, what we wanted to know and what we have learned. So, our testing process resulted in these facts:

  • there are a lot of specialized tools for concept mapping and workflow visualization on the market
  • most of them are not user-friendly in terms of accessibility and intuitiveness
  • you need to go through several steps of the registration process before starting using them
  • tools offer a limited set of highly specialized features
  • they are not flexible enough on the things you can do in your own style
  • tools are overpacked with the pre-made assets, so it’s hard to make a way
    through them
  • there are the limited number of users with whom you can share the concepts

Here is the interactive KWL chart that you can edit with your own findings and observations. You can even invite other team members and colleagues to take part in brainstorming and knowledge sharing. After you’re done, you can save the board in your repository to review the chart with new findings, as you learn more.

A Point of View = A Problem Statement

Having all these facts in mind, we have structured a meaningful and actionable problem statement. In other words, we have formed our POV – a point of view.

Define your point of view with this easy guideClick To Tweet

Design thinking POV
Defining the Point of View. Courtesy of: http://tlpnyc.com/define-stage/

 

POV: Developers need a flexible, easy-to-use visualization tool which they can access immidiately because they need to visualize their concepts.

With the clearly defined POV, we can proceed with further steps of the design thinking process. How are your experiences? Do you have something to add? Please let me know at dorotea@awwapp.com.

Design Thinking Chronicles: How to Get to Know Your Customers [Free Empathy Map Template]

Empathy. All people have it. But oftentimes, we forget how to use it. We are used to having presumptions about people around us because it’s easier to have biases about someone than to actually get to know him/her. However, empathy is a vital part of design thinking process and crucial part of getting to know your customers. It requires time and effort, but it is the right thing to do, and in the end, it pays off. Follow these steps and learn how.

Why Is Empathy Good For Your Business?

Empathy is the first out of five phases of design thinking process which we covered in the last blog. It is often highlighted as the crucial part of the whole process. But, why is it so important? Can we go without it?

Although there are various market research methods, none of them can explain why people act like they do. While traditional research methods focus on facts about people, empathy gives us an insight into another dimension – consumer’s motivations, fears, thoughts. And these are all important to portrait a full picture of a customer.

In order to build things people want, you first need to understand people, put a human into a center. Only with a full picture of a customer, you will fully understand his needs. That means, without an empathetic understanding of a customer, you will build products that you want, and not him.

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Going to the Core of the Problem

We in AWW app are trying to empathize with our customers and find out about the struggles they are facing at their jobs. We believe in building a relationship from the start. So, we use email tool to communicate with customers as soon as they register. In the welcome email, we ask our customers these questions: “Why did you sign for AWW? What do you hope it will help you with?”

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When they answer those, we are asking further questions – sometimes called 5 Why’s. With every question, we go deeper into specific details of their problem until we get a complete picture of the customer. For example, we can ask them to describe the way they think AWW will help them with a certain task. Or which aspects of the certain task were they struggling before they did it with AWW. And most important of all – what is their end goal, the purpose of doing the task anyway

Sometimes, when we feel the customer is willing to give more, we schedule a call to make a stronger connection and have a better insight into customer’s needs.

It is important to ask your customers about their problems. Don't only try to validate your product.Click To Tweet

Final Illustration of Your Customer – Empathy Map

Now it’s time we put all that data on a paper. Or maybe it’s better to say – a map. Empathy map is a useful tool for putting together all the information you have gathered in your research. In our case, it is a general problem-defining map and not a UX – evaluation empathy map. In an example below, we have portrayed a product owner from an international software company.

Empathy map is divided into six segments:

  1. Pain – All the frustrations, obstacles and struggles customers are facing in their everyday life, that your product can solve.
  2. Gain – Needs of the customer in the area your product is covering.
  3. Say & Do – Attitude in public, behavior towards others, actions.
  4. See – Environment, what the market offers, current solutions to the problem.
  5. Hear – Tips from friends, family, and colleagues. Advice and suggestions from influencers.
  6. Think & Feel – Things that are really important. Worries and preoccupations. Aspirations.
Empathy map example
Empathy map example for AWW customer
Pain

As you can see, our product owner is facing the problem of the different time zone as she is in the USA office, and the development team is in Vietnam. She is facing the language barrier as she doesn’t speak Vietnamese, while Vietnamese team is struggling with English. At last, she finds written treatises hard to process and lacking visual aid.

Gain

Her goal is to get on the same page with all the members of the international team in real time. Also, she wants to cut down any possible misinterpretations that might happen due to poor language skills from both sides of the team.

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See

The way she tackles the problem right now is not satisfying. She does have a physical whiteboard in her office, but it’s not practical to access it at 5 am when the meeting is usually called. She prefers a solution which she can access from the comfort of her home. Also, the whiteboard has a limited space and she can’t collaborate with the rest of the team members on the content of the board in real time.

Think and Feel

Very often she feels overwhelmed with the size and density of the treatises in a written form. Sometimes she feels frustrated over the language barrier between her and her Vietnamese colleagues. 

Say and Do

She would prefer a visual tool which will enable her team to section off a part of the written form on which they agree.

Hear

She has heard of AWW app from her colleague, as a possible solution to her problems and she decided to give it a try.

Free Empathy Map Template

Want to try it yourself? Click the Start drawing button on the interactive image below and doodle out your first AWW empathy map. Use the text tool to fill out the map, and zoom in the image if you feel you don’t have enough space. 

You can share it with your team members and colleagues or you can do it on your own. When you’re done you can click invite menu and download the image to save the map to your computer. To have the best drawing experience try our premium features for free.  

 

 

Design Thinking Chronicles: Introduction into Human-Centered Problem Solving

Despite having a word “design” in the name, design thinking is not an exclusive methodology of designers. Many leading international brands like Apple, Google, Samsung, and General Electric use design thinking approach to solving problems in a creative and innovative way. Many leading universities in the world like Stanford and MIT teach design thinking method. But, what exactly is design thinking and why is it so popular? 

What Exactly is Design Thinking

Let’s put it in a simple way: Design thinking is a methodology for solving a problem in an innovative and creative way, with human needs as a starting point. As in everyday life, in order to solve a problem, you need to define the problem first. Defining the problem requires a bit of investigating the needs of people who use your service/product. So, it all starts with getting to know your customers and their motivations, fears, emotions, and hopes.

But, why should you bother your team with some new method? Isn’t that just for designers? The answer is, you are already guessing, no! Design thinking is in a way a synonym for building things people actually want.

It is really not just a design in a narrow sense of the word, it is a way of doing things. Doing things in a way that will benefit both your customers and your company. Implementing design thinking into your business model offers a framework for innovation that contributes to the organic growth of your company.

Design thinking puts a human into a central focus of your business and consequently, it adds value to your customers.

5 Steps of Design Thinking

What is the right way to implement design thinking into your business? Are there any steps? Although there are several proposed methods in the use, we’ll demonstrate the 5 stage model, proposed by leading design thinking school, Hasso- Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University.

5 Steps of Design Thinking
5 Steps of Design Thinking. Photo Courtesy of Dee Lanier
Empathise

Empathy is crucial to a human-centered model such as design thinking. In the first stage of the process, you are focusing on gaining the empathetic understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. Getting to know your users includes observing, engaging, and empathizing with users to find out their motivations. However, the best way to gain understanding is by immersing yourself in the matter of concern and developing the personal experience of the issue.

Let’s say you are a cosmetic company and you’re trying to figure out the problems your users are facing in their everyday life. You’re gonna need to talk to your customers and find out facts like what they do for a living, what is their daily cosmetic routine and what skin conditions they have. But also, you’re gonna need to try your products for yourself and see how they work for you.

Empathizing with customers allows you to set aside assumptions and gain a real insight into user’s needs.
Define

Once you have gathered all your data, it’s the time for your team to analyze and synthesize it into a single sentence that illustrates the problem. Rather than putting the problem as your own wish or need, build it around your user’s need. So, instead of defining the problem as “we need to increase our cosmetic products market share among women between 35 and 45”, it’s better to define it like “women need nourishing skin care without parabens to revitalize their face skin”.

design thinking process
Design thinking process. Photo Courtesy of Designshack
Ideate

At the end of the second phase, you ended up with the human-centered problem statement. That is the perfect starting point for the next phase – ideation. Your team can now start thinking outside of the box to come up with different ideas of a solution to a problem. Various points of views can generate different kinds of solutions.

Following the example from above, your team members can think of a nourishing woman serum, cream or emulsion. There are various techniques for generating ideas like brainstorming, brainwriting, mind mapping, SCAMPER, and visualization. AWW can help you out with writing down and visualizing your new ideas and sharing it with the other team members.

Prototype

It’s time for building some prototypes. You need to turn out the ideas you came up with in the previous stage into scaled-down versions of a real product. Prototypes may be shared and tested by the team members or on a small number of people outside the team. In this phase, you will create set of prototypes, each of them implementing one idea from the previous stage.

For example, you can test out the prototypes of the serum, cream and emulsion on 35-45 women focus group from our scenario. The goal of prototyping is identifying the best possible solution to a problem defined in the second stage. So, at the end of this stage, you will decide whether you’ll go with the cream, serum or emulsion.

Test

Finally, in a testing phaseevaluating team tests out complete products using the best solution prototypes. Although it is the last stage of the model, the process itself is iterative. Often the result of testing phase is used to redefine the problem to some extent from the step two, or to inform the understanding of the users from step one.

Let’s say, your tests have shown that the cream has had the best results and you decided to launch the cream. Based on the feedback from the market, product designers will be able to make even better versions of the original cream.

Non-Linear Character of Design Thinking Process

design thinking non linear process
Non-Linear Process of Design Thinking. Photo Courtesy of The Interaction Design Foundation

Design thinking process is not a linear process. The information and resources are constantly flowing between each of the phases in both directions.

Even stages themselves are flexible and serve more as a guide for undertaking certain activities when implementing design thinking concept. They can be repeated, switched and conducted at the same time if that’s what’s necessary to find the best solution possible.

Design thinking is not just a popular idea which will fade away in few months. It is here to stay for next generations of great product developers and designers. Implementing it in your company will gain you the knowledge and a better understanding of your users and allow you to build better products. Admit that you are already falling for this concept and the only thing you need is a little push. So, jump!

6 C’s of Education in your Classroom

It all started with 4 C’s of the 21st – century education: critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. These are the skills that many of you teachers are familiar with and already implementing them in your classrooms. However, this is not where C’s are ending. In his blog post, Brian S. Miller first introduced the world to the new, augmented concept – the 6 C’s of education. He suggested the concept after talking to his colleagues, listening to their suggestions, and studying materials of education leaders of today. In this post, we’ll take a look at this concept.

The Importance of 6 C’s of Education

Before digging deep in the concept, it’s important to highlight the value of these new educational skills. The key purpose of educational institutions is preparing children for their future jobs. However, the problem educational institutions are facing is that future of today’s children is so unpredictable. Jobs we can’t even imagine are created every day. Employers require creative and problem-solving skills and an ability to adapt to changes. Those new skills and abilities kids can’t polish by solving standardized tests. That’s why teachers need to foster new skills in the classroom- skills of 6 C’s education.

21st century skills: The 6 C's of Education
The 6 C’s of Education. Photo Credit: Michael Fullan & Sylvia Duckworth

6 C’s of Education

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the process of filtering, analyzing and questioning information/content found in various media, and then synthesizing it in a form that has a value to an individual. It allows students to make sense of the presented content and apply it to their daily lives.

Collaboration

Collaboration is a skill of utilizing various personalities, talents, and knowledge in a way to create a maximum outcome. The outcome must provide a benefit to the entire community or a group. Due to synergy, the common outcome has a greater value than a sum of values of each individual outcome. Check how you can sparkle collaboration in your classroom with few easy games.

Communication

Communication is a skill of presenting information in a clear, concise and meaningful way. It also designates careful listening and articulating thoughts. Communication has various purposes: informing, instructing, motivating, and persuading.

Creativity

In the 21st century, an individual must be able to create something new or create something in a new way, utilizing the knowledge he has already acquired. It does not just signify art, but also various solutions to a problem in real life situations. In our last blog post, we have suggested few methods how to foster creativity in the math classroom.

Citizenship/ Culture

This is a part where various authors point out different skills. Miller states the culture as one of the pieces of 6 C’s, while Michael Fullan features citizenship. When we look closer, they are not so different, and actually, they go hand in hand with one another. It is important for an individual to be in touch with everything that surrounds him – both culture and community.

Character Education/ Connectivity

According to Miller, understanding the importance of human connectivity in the world filled with technology is a necessary skill to teach children. Fullan highlights character education as the last C. It includes school’s commitment to helping young people become responsible, caring, and contributing citizens.

How to Foster 6 C’s in your Classroom?

So, how can you implement 6C’c in your everyday curriculum? How can you inspire your students to start developing their creativity, communicative and critical skills? You can start by trying these few methods, and see how they work for you. Changing traditional teaching ways can be hard, but it’s rewarding to see how your students transform into scholars of the 21st century.

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Project Based Learning

Project-based learning is probably more closely associated with 21st-century learning skills than any other form of learning. According to Buck Institute for Education, project-based learning is “a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge“.

Within a project, students are involved with a meaningful real-life problem over a defined period of time. Students are required to find a solution to it through a process of asking questions, finding, analyzing and applying information and employing their creativity skills. Usually, the process also includes decision making, working in teams and reviewing for the sake of improving the final solution.

Project based learning: 6C's of education
Project-based learning. Photo Credit: zulama.com

Moving through the process, students develop skills that include problem-solving, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. It’s important to emphasize that the goal of a project-based learning is not solving the problem, but gaining aforementioned skills throughout the process of solving the problem. Teach Thought lists fifty ideas for projects you can try out in your classroom.

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Genius Hour

A Genius hour is another teaching method in the classrooms of the 21st century. The movement refers to a certain amount of time during class that teacher give to students to explore their passions. Genius hour originates in Google’s practice of giving the engineers 20% of their time to work on any project they want. The idea was simple – give people the freedom to do what they want and the productivity will go up. Since it worked pretty well for Google, why not try it in the classroom?

The crucial part of Genius hour is defining a fine line between helping students to focus on the problem and letting them explore the topic on their own. While it’s OK to guide them in the beginning, at some point you’ll have to let them work at their own pace and in their own style.

Principles of Genius Hour

According to Teach Thought, there are six principles of Genius HourSense of purpose refers to a purpose students find in the topic they choose to explore. Students Design their own learning methodology. Through Inquiry & Navigation students make sense of ideas important to them. At the end of the day, a Genius hour is all about Creating something out of the learning process – a new thought, idea or a project. Socialization refers to connections students make with teachers, peers, and members of a community to help them carry out their projects. Lastly, there is an 80/20 Rule which refers to a schedule of time within a curriculum divided between a traditional class and Genius Hour.

6 Principles of Genius Hour. Photo Credit: Teach Thought

While it’s not important to follow 80/20 rule, be sure to define a certain amount of time when your students will freely explore their passions. They’ll develop critical thinking skills while exploring the topic, creativity while expressing their new knowledge, and communication skills while highlighting the importance of the knowledge they’ve gained. If you’re looking for Genius hour ideas, there’s a Google + community discussing the topic and sharing experiences.

 

Creative Thinking In Math Classroom

For years creativity was discouraged in schools. Teachers were imposing strict guidelines kids should follow when doing their assignments. There was only one correct answer and one accurate process, while everything else was wrong. In that old-fashioned setup, following rules and standards was the best way to become a successful A grade student. Luckily, things started to change lately. Teachers slowly started to recognize the huge importance of fostering creative thinking in the classroom. Math class teachers are surely one of the pioneers of creativity – inspired teaching.

Creative Thinking = Divergent thinking

When thinking about the word divergent, I’m sure you had negative connotations coming to your mind. Now, let’s stop for a moment and see what the word divergent really means. Scholars describe divergent as tending to be different or develop in different directions. Divergent thinking refers to the way the mind generates ideas beyond prescribed expectations and rote thinking. Is being different really that bad? Although we can all agree it’s not, it’s been rooted deeply in our minds that different means wrong. Why is that so?

As children, our divergent capability operates at a genius level. Starting with our education, the system teaches us that doing things differently is wrong. Due to the system suppression, the ability to think divergently decreases drastically as we grow.

creative thinking in math classroom- divergent thinking

What exactly the divergent thinking has to do with creativity? The definition of creativity is the ability to come up with original, unique solutions to problems or ideas. In other words, creating something new, a new value. That being said, thinking differently than others is actually required if you want to come up with something different, something unique. So, basically, thinking divergently is a key to creativity.

Fostering Critical Thinking Inside Classroom

The world we have known is changing rapidly. Set of skills we have now, might not be valid in few years. The ability to adapt to new conditions and situations is a crucial skill. Employers want you to look beyond the answers. Creativity is valued as the most important business skill, while creative thinking is one of the keys to economic prosperity in the 21st century. So, how can we prepare our children for this fast changing, hectic environment?

creative thinking in math classroom - importance of creativity in schools
Photo Credit: Dylan Wiliam

By allowing students to nourish their creative thinking in the classroom you are preparing them for the world outside of it. Turn your classroom into an open space of free thinkers and wonderers. Allow your students to use new thinking tools, to tweak solution paths and facilitate new processes. The best way for students to learn how to think creatively is to let them think creatively. Let them test, revise and draw conclusions from their own judgments. With time, they will become more and more confident in their thinking.

Creative Thinking in Math Classroom

Lack of creative thinking in math classroom results in memorizing techniques, without imagining how, where or why to use them in real life. Setting up an environment in which mistakes are allowed, and making sure that your students know there is more than one solution to a problem will go in favor of creativity. Math is as much about posing problems as problem-solving, and at that point, the creativity is in noticing there is something to investigate. Another powerful tool in supporting students as independent, creative thinkers is the use of questioning. In this environment, classroom needs to value difference and learn from that diversity and creativity. I have listed few techniques that will help you out in boosting creative thinking in math classroom.

Number Talks

Number talks are sessions where students present various solutions to math problems. They are not using pencil, pen, calculator or algorithm, but only their mental process often referred to as mental math. Students solve problems by breaking and decomposing numbers. Once they solve the problem, they need to explain the logic of their solutions to the entire class. It is a great way of both facilitating students’ creative thinking and practicing their argumentation. 

creative thinking in math classroom - number talks
Photo Credit: Catherine Reed

Teachers usually structure number talks in a way that students sit on their seats, while a teacher writes down their solutions on a board. It sometimes may be hard for all the solutions to fit a board, causing that some of them have to be erased. Further on, students might not be able to see all the writings on a board from their seats. AWW has a simple solution to these problems. Use AWW as an online smartboard and let your students solve problems from their seats. Solutions will display both on a smartboard or a projections screen and their own devices. You can manage students’ participating rights, as you don’t want them all to be able to draw at the same time.

creative thinking in math classroom - number talks
Photo Credit: Catherine Reed
Writing Their Own Problems

One of the ways to spark creative thinking inside the classroom is by letting your students write their own math problems. Benefits of this practice are various. You can assess whether your students can apply higher-level thinking skills. Students can improve their argumentation skills while they practice explaining the logic behind their problems. You will also get a feedback at which level of understanding are they, as they will come up only with the problems they can personally solve. Students will include their personal stories and experiences into their explanations. Thanks to that, you will learn a great deal about your students’ interests and life outside of a classroom.

 

 

5 Google Classroom Updates in 2017

Google Classroom is a platform that 20 million students, educators, and administrators all over the world use every day to learn, teach, share knowledge and monitor students’ progress. That being said, Google Classroom keeps progressing and improving to meet the needs of its widespread users. In this blog post, I’ll introduce you with 5 Google Classroom updates published in 2017, designed for each of aforementioned groups of users.

Google Classroom Updates for Teachers

Individual Assignments

By default, teachers can post assignments to all students in the class. Starting from January 2017, teachers can post assignments to individual students. This option allows the teacher to make differentiated assignments and apply the more individual approach in the classroom

To make it done, you need to click the triangle next to students button in your course. That will activate the drop down menu where you can choose to select all users or pick individual students.

However, you can not post to individual students if more than one class is included. Also, you can not post individually to more than 100 students at a time.

Google Classroom updates for teachers
Making individual assignments
Teacher Notifications

Google Classroom has updated teacher notifications. Teachers can now see whenever a student submits the assignment past the due date. Also, if a student resubmits a work after a teacher has already reviewed it, a teacher will receive notification.

Inviting via Email

Starting from March 2017, teachers can invite students and co-teachers to their classes via email. Invited user will get an email with the instructions on how to join the class.

Google Classroom Updates for Students

Student Notifications

The new update will help students to turn in their assignments on time. The student will get a notification 24 hours prior to the assignment due date.

Notification Management

Both students and teachers can manage their mobile notification settings. They can choose which type of notifications they want to receive on their mobile devices.

Google Classroom Updates for Personal Accounts

Recently, Google Classroom has announced probably the biggest update of the year! Google for education has broadened its eligible accounts policy and allowed users to sign up with personal Google accounts. 

This is a revolutionary move from Google Classroom, as it actually means that you don’t need to have a G Suite for Education anymore. It opened the doors to all those users who aren’t associated with any school. Homeschooling parents, online tutors and life long learners can now create their Google Classroom accounts.

However, there is a catch. Although you can create Google Classroom account with a personal Google account, you can not yet create your classes. At this moment, you can only join an existing class. Creating feature will be available over the next few weeks. In the meantime, you can ask Google to let you create your class before that. When you click a create a class button, the notification box will open. Click the “Let us know” link on the bottom that will lead you to Google form. Fill it out and wait for a response.

Google Classroom Updates

Google Classroom Updates for Administrators

User Metrics

As a G Suite for Education administrator you access users metrics like weekly active users, a number of active classes, created courses and posts. These metrics should help administrators to reduce paperwork and measure the success of both teachers and students.

Google Classroom Updates from AWW

Last week AWW introduced an update of Google Classroom board share. With this enhanced version, teachers and students can have more integrated user experience of AWW and Google Classroom.

Teachers can now create assignments, announcements and ask questions from within AWW board, while students can turn in their completed assignments directly from the application.

Google Classroom Updated with AWW
Sending Assignments in AWW

Beginner’s Guide to Paperless Classroom

Starting with Paperless Classroom

If I ask every teacher what would make their work better, their answer would probably be – more efficient and organized classroom. More time for students and less time doing paperwork. Paperless classroom is an concept which, if implemented thoughtfully and carefully, can make your teaching wishes come true.

However, when starting to think about going paperless, you’ll have to consider some facts. As in every concept, you have to take into account both benefits and challenges. At the beginning, set your expectations low, and see how the paperless concept works for you. Test it. Adapt it to your needs. When you’re ready, set the goals and keep track of them.

Paperless Classroom
Courtesy of: Paul Gigliotti

Benefits of Paperless Classroom

The two most obvious benefits of paperless classroom are smaller cost and less time spent for printing out. Printing out endless number of assignments, homework, syllabi and exams, can be cumbersome and exhausting work. Not to mention, the costs of paper, ink and maintenance can add up to enormous sums. Average American school pays $25,000 annually just for the costs of paper! This alone is a reason enough to start considering implementation of a digital classroom concept.

Beyond these obvious benefits, there are other perks of implementing paperless classroom system into your school. Paperless implementation can result in a more sustainable and efficient workflow. No more “dog ate my homework” or misplaced exams. Another big value of having a cloud based system is access to data. Teacher can access student data and see whether he’s turned in his homework right from his couch. Deeper analysis of student data can show how student progress over time.

Benefits of Paperless Classroom
Courtesy of: chalkup.co

Not doing things old way, can create a lot of extra time for student collaboration end engagement. Doing things digitally can save time and make more engagement friendly environment. Concepts like flipped classroom and blended learning are some of the examples of fostering collaboration with the use of paperless technology.

When kids got all the learning materials available in a cloud base or LMS system they can access it whenever they want. Discussions started in classroom can continue at students’ homes. Moreover, Students can share their homework or a group assignments with friends and collaboratively solve problems. As a teacher you can access their assignments in real time end even help them with their struggles from your home.

Students can engage with the lessons in the way they find more comfortable. Gamification is the perfect example. Students can feel more like they’re having fun, than actually learning, and thus likely to involve more. Furthermore, digital audio-visual formats like videos and screencasts are by a definition more engaging way of consuming information then one-dimensional textual forms.

Challenges of Paperless Classroom

No system is perfect. There are several challenges to think about when transitioning to paperless. The obvious one is access to internet and devices. Both of them cost money. In addition, there are tools that you’ll use to transform your class to digital. Whether it is a comprehensive system or a simple app you’ll have to think about money that you’ll need to invest in it. Lastly, think about the hidden costs. Many of products have freemium pricing models. If you don’t pay attention to small print, you may unknowingly end up being charged for an increase of a service.

Paperless ClassroomAnother challenge is a question of training. As much as systems are becoming more easy to use, there is a certain time period that’ll need to pass before accommodating with it. We recommend you to take a trial period or demo version before actually buying a product. That way, you can avoid buying a product that you don’t feel comfortable with. Bad customer support can also be a deal breaker. Call out or send a ticket to test customer support promptness and how they’re dealing with problems.

Lastly, there’s a mind shifting challenge. Abandoning habits created for years is hard. Many older generation teachers, that didn’t grow up in the internet age, can have an aversion towards digital tools. Moreover, they can think there’s nothing wrong with printed exams and handwrite red-pen homework corrections. As a result, they can feel confused and reluctant. However, younger colleagues can help them out discover pain points when using technology and explain them that tools are not here to replace them, but to help them use their time more efficiently.

Practical Steps to Go Paperless

♦ Build up your digital learning materials repository. LMS systems or cloud platforms like Google Drive or Dropbox are probably the best solution to collect and store all your materials. Recently, AWW has introduced embed option for Canvas, Edmodo and Moodle.

 

Paperless Classroom with Cloud Storage♦Create digital lessons/assignments. There are so many tools on the market that enable you screencast your lessons, make video tutorials and record your audio explanations or student’s thoughts. With AWW you can create and save unlimited number of lessons. Use text, drawings, images and files to create intuitive and fun learning materials.

♦ Distribute lessons digitally. It is important that you can easily distribute your lessons and assignments. AWW app has made a great tool that will help you share your saved lessons with a click of a button to entire class.  

♦ Collect completed assignments the same way you distributed it. Students can easily turn in their AWW assignments by sharing them to Google Classroom.

♦ Monitor progress of your students. When we’re talking about monitoring progress over time, yet again, LMS systems come in handy .

♦ Connect with parents. Share grades, lessons and assignments with parents and keep them in the loop.

Embedding Whiteboard inside Canvas & Moodle

If you are a teacher, you’re probably using some sort of LMS system. LMS systems became prevalent these days, as they help teachers and administrative staff to manage their tasks more efficient. LMS platforms are effective and responsive way for educators to create, deliver and manage their content, as well as monitor and assess participation in their class. All that being said, we can all agree that learning management systems are life savers.

Drawing and Sketching inside LMS

Surely, most of you use your LMS as a central place for creating, storing and sharing your lessons, assignment and other instructions. Sharing assignments and quizzes with your students can make your classes more interactive and students more engaged.

Most LMS systems, like Canvas or Moodle, enable you to upload various file formats into your assignments and quizzes. You can upload videos, text files, images and sheets. But, what about whiteboard, a canvas where you can doodle along with your students? Did you ever, as a teacher, have a need to draw out a complex math formula or electric circuit and share your drawings with your students? Did you ever wanted to make a group assignment or discussion, for which a visual note taking tool would come as a perfect solution? Well, I suppose a lots of you have found yourself in a situation like that. No wonder why, because whiteboard is a flexible and simple tool that can be very useful in everyday teaching environment.

Yes, there are a number of whiteboard services and platforms specialized for educators. But they all require you to create an account, remember a password, learn how can you add your students to it etc. There are also plans that don’t allow you to add entire class in a free version, and you have to pay money for it. All that taken into account, it would be so much nicer to have a whiteboard inside your LMS. A System that you already have an account for, your students connected to it and all materials stored in.

Create your Assignments with AWW

With a new AWW embed option, you can create a shared whiteboard and share it via embed link to your assignment right in your LMS dashboard. With just one click you can share an assignment with an entire class. Have your student brainstorm and express themselves visually on the board. Group your students in smaller groups and let them discuss between themselves, using whiteboard to draw up key points. Whether you are using a Moodle or Canvas, AWW works fine and seamless with both.

Copy and Paste Embed Link into LMS

 Have all Materials at One Place

Having AWW lessons in your LMS system makes easier for teachers to organize their classes and have all materials at the same place. There is no need for creating various accounts and remembering different passwords. AWW embed link is available to all users in a free version. You can just enter awwapp.com, create a lesson and embed it into your LMS without the need for registration.

 

BETT London 2017 Review: Teachers Needs Beyond Technology

In the wake of the Bett Show that took place two weeks ago in London EXCEL center, our team discussed what have we learned from it. I wanted to share my conclusions with you in a short review.

What Bett Taught Us

AWW was exhibiting at this renowned educational show that lasted four days. There was a huge promenade of startups, enormous corporations and IT giants offering their interactive whiteboards, content software, school safety solutions and so on. I caught myself thinking: I really can’t imagine being in shoes of these teachers, trying to find the right solution for their classrooms. The offer is just too big, information overload is inevitable.

Our primary goal wasn’t to offer our product but to educate ourselves and find out what teachers really need. We are not teachers, and we really don’t know what is going on in the classrooms. But, we are eager to find it out. We strongly believe that market research is the only way to make a proper product and Bett was our perfect opportunity to speak face to face with educators across the world.

BETT London Review

We talked with more than 800 visitors – teachers, school leaders and IT guys. We talked with people from all European countries, Indian subcontinent, China, and UAE. Finally, we came to a staggering conclusion. Although there is a pretty deep level of technology penetration inside schools in terms of interactive hardware and devices for each student, there is an overall confusion and lack of knowledge of how to use it in a meaningful way. By meaningful, I mean using technology to transform classes from traditionally based classrooms to collaboration and discussion oriented flipped classrooms. 80% of our interviewers do not use technology in a way that helps their students to engage with a class. Other 20% use it only sporadically. Technology is there to help, but if not used properly, it simply loses its purpose.

BETT London Review

Next Steps for Teaching Beyond Technology

With the feedback we got from teachers, we have drawn out high-level ideas of what we’re trying to accomplish:

  • Give teachers the power to transform their classes by letting their students be in charge of their learning.
  • Let students explore the content in the way that feels the most comfortable to them.
  • Make a platform that gives students a chance to share the knowledge and collaborate with their friends.
  • Give students a chance to show and elaborate the knowledge from their perspective.

We want to hear your opinion as well. After all, research is a continuous process. So, do not hesitate to reach us and send us your suggestions at dorotea@awwapp.com

Sketchnoting in the Classroom with AWW

Sketchnoting is really a buzzword these days. You cannot surf a web without stumbling upon a blog post or guide introducing sketchnoting skills, sketchnoting for beginners, sketchnoting resources… And we can’t blame them – sketchnoting is a really great way to enhance your student’s creativity, information retaining and interaction in the classroom. AWW app can help you achieve that.

Why Sketchnoting?

There is a number of reasons why your kids should start making their sketches in the classroom. Sketchnoting is the most creative and individual learning method for kids and is more personal than a classic note taking.

Kids memorize better while taking visual notes. The visual cues in sketchnotes enhance their recall process. When kids are sketching, they are basically organizing information visually and arranging it in a hierarchy. This spatial arrangement of information provides a structural framework for the content.

Kids can arrange information the way that best suits their learning habits and abilities.  Each student has a particular style to portray his or her knowledge of the topic. Sketchnoting allows them to express their style and release their creativity.

Kids are developing listening, organizing and summarizing skills while sketchnoting. Unlike classical note taking, sketchnoting is a higher order process of capturing information. It requires a combination of listening, thinking, visualizing and drawing at the same time.

It’s fun so kids stay focused and engaged with lessons. Try it out in your classroom and watch your kids draw and create their sketches! They will absolutely love it!

4 Components of Sketchnoting

There are four main components of sketchnoting.

  1. Text
  2. Images
  3. Frames/ Containers
  4. Connectors

4 Elements of Sketchnoting

Boost your Sketchnoting with AWW

  • No need for pencil or notebook

With AWW your kids won’t need pencils or notebooks to start making awesome sketches. The only thing they’re going to need is their own mobile phone or a tablet provided by your school.

  • Share your work with the world

There are few things that give so much pleasure like an admiration you get for your work. Motivate your students to master the art of sketchnoting and let them share their sketchnotes with their friends on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Include friends

Have your students invite other classmates to join their boards to make a collaborative sketch. Students can use it outside the classroom as a fun and easy learning method for study groups.

  • Drawing options at a glance 

Make your drawing as easy as possible and use AWW advanced tools. Make a circle, rectangle or line with a tap on the board. Type in the text or erase it without hassle. Add files and draw sketches on the top of them. Upload your presentations or images and make your sketches even more visual. Save your sketch and add a missing drawing afterward with AWW templates.

  • Have unlimited canvas

A classic notebook is limited with a size of the page. With AWW you can expand your canvas as much as you need. You can even add additional pages to your board for each lesson or topic and export it as a single pdf file.

 

AWW Introduces New Features: Features For Teachers Part 7

Recently, we have introduced a feature that enables you to upload PDF and PPT files into the AWW board. The experience is now complete, because now you can also export your board content as a PDF file.

Export Your AWW Interactive Presentation into PDF File

You have prepared your lesson PDF file, upload it on the board, and have had your children taking notes, writing sketches and marking words on the top of it. This great interactive presentation will make a perfect learning material for your students. But, there’s a catch – you couldn’t download your multiple page presentation in a nice readable form. Well, we have some good news for you: you can now export your multipage board into one single PDF file and have your presentation at a glance! PDF export is a premium feature, but you can have a 30 days free trial if you register at our page.

How to Export Board Content into PDF

Log into your account and create your board. When you’re ready to export click on the Invite to board button. When the dialog box opens choose an Export to PDF option. Once you click on it, you’ll get notified that you’ll receive your file at your email when it’s ready. Let’s create and export your interactive presentations right away!

Invite to board button AWW app
Invite to board button

Export to PDF file AWW app
Export to PDF button

Visit AWW at BETT Show London 2017

AWW is starting this year with a big entrance. Last couple of months we worked hard and made lots of great product updates and now is the time for a show-off! From January 25 to 28, AWW will be showcasing at the world’s leading education technology event, BETT London.

Why to visit BETT Show

BETT is arguably the best place to learn about educational technology this year. The vast number of seminars, exhibitions and presentations will make you shiver in excitement. From international education star, sir Ken Robinson, to world’s most influential social media personas like Charlie McDonnell and creative entrepreneurs like Imogen Heap, everyone can find something to treat himself with. You can find entire seminar agenda here . If you didn’t already, you can still register.

Visit AWW at BETT Show London
Visit BETT Show London

Visit us at C479

We’ll present AWW as an online smart board solution by projecting AWW board from tablets to projection screen. Visitors we’ll be able to try out all premium features on tablets and see how it all shows up on a screen.  We are looking forward to present you last product updates like multiple pages board, permanent board and PDF/PPT upload. At the very show, we’re going to surprise you with another cool product update, which is still in progress.

We are also be there to answer all your questions and to receive all your suggestions. Last, but not least, we’ll be giving special 20% subscription discount to all BETT visitors. 

 

5 Collaborative Classroom Games with A Web Whiteboard

Forget about dull and boring lectures with a teacher pointing on a blackboard with their stick, repeating the words and phrases and making students to memorize them by heart. With educational technology giving so much opportunities, teachers can turn boring lectures into fun and collaborative group work.  One of the most creative ways to engage your students and make your lessons fun are collaborative classroom games. Here are listed five classroom games you can do with your students on A Web Whiteboard (AWW).

Pictionary

Students who learn better through visual stimuli can memorize new terms and concepts playing Pictionary. Have your students draw their representation of the word.

Create a list of new words and terms relevant to the topic or lesson you have recently taught in your class. Divide the class into few groups, preferably of three or four members. Let one of the students from group to draw their representation of term using AWW app. The rest of the group needs to guess the meaning of the term. Let the group collaborate and discuss while guessing. Every group that guesses the term correctly gets a point.

You can do this on more complex level when reviewing history or geography lessons with older students, and on a simple level when teaching first graders new vocabulary.

Classroom games with AWW - Pictionary
Pictionary with AWW – courtesy of Danielle Moore

Hangman

Hangman is another simple game to use when reviewing lessons. It is also a great way to assess where is your class at when it comes to spelling. AWW app comes in very handy when using hangman game as an assessing method.

Create a list of the words relevant to the certain topic and divide your students into groups. Let them know the topic, or if you want to make it even easier, reveal the year or a figure relevant to the word. Have students brainstorm within the groups and try to guess the letters of the word. Each group gets to draw one letter of the word as they change turns alternately. Make a gallows for each group. For each wrong letter a group gets a part of the body on their gallows. The group with the least number of parts of the body gets the most points.

Tic-Tac-Toe

This can be a good math practice method. If you have enough tablets in your class, give one tablet per each pair of students. If you don’t, you can make this a team work with groups of four students. Or you just let your students play on their own smartphones.

Create 3×3 field tic-tac-toe grids on your AWW boards. If you want your students to solve problems for a whole period, create more than one grid. You can use multiple pages for each grid if you are a premium user. Fill each field of the grid with math problems leaving enough empty space for answers.

Divide the class into pairs or groups, according to the number of devices. Share separate boards with the grids to each group/pair and let them solve the problems within grids. Separate their answers by color – let’s say a Person A uses red color, while Person B uses green. Whoever solve the problem correctly gets a tick from the teacher. The goal is to collect three successive ticks in a row. Student who achieves that first within his group or pair can cross out these fields and get points.

Classroom games with AWW
Tic-Tac-Toe with AWW

Circle the number

This is really, really simple classroom game you can play with your kindergarten children and first graders who are learning to write. Basically, write down a bunch of numbers on your AWW board and share it with the class. If you don’t have enough devices, divide them in the groups. Read the numbers at loud and let your students to circle out right figures on the board.

There are many similar versions of the game like circle the animal, plant, letter….

Crossword

This is really awesome vocabulary practice classroom game, but it take a little bit more preparation than other classroom games mentioned in this post.

Make a list of questions and answers and create a crossword. It can be a simple crossword with only one vertical field, or more complex one, depending on the age of your students.

You can save your crossword as a template, so you can reuse it whenever you’re playing this game with your students. Share the crossword with your students and let them work in pairs or groups. You can limit the time of solving and give points for every correct answer, or you can let them unlimited time and give points to those who are the quickest.

 

Hope you’ll try out some of these classroom games and that your students are going to love it. Here are some other creative classroom games you can try out without the use of web whiteboard.

INFOGRAPHIC: Top 5 AWW Tools & Colors

We at AWW are always striving to find who are our customers and how they use AWW. We were curious about what tools you use the most, and what colors you find the most interesting. So, we crunched metrics from the past month. You wanna check them out? Let’s go!

The most popular AWW tools

We have pulled the data from over 150.000 unique drawing sessions. Our goal was to find out what are the most popular free tools. As a criteria, we considered tools that were used at least once in the drawing session. We picked five most used tools out of fourteen tools in total. We didn’t count undo tool in, though. Basic tools are in the first row, and the second one is presented by premium tools.

AWW tools
AWW tools

Not surprisingly, pencil turned out to be the most popular tool with over 33% of total tool usage. It’s an interesting fact that average user uses pencil 5 times per drawing sessions. Second place took eraser with 27%. What came as a surprise, pan tool settled as third most used tool. 11% of drawers used pan tool to move on board and expand drawing space. That is probably the best indicator of the need of multiple pages on a board.

Scissors settled at the lower part of the list with little bit under 11%. Text tool placed at the bottom of the list with only 10% of tool usage. Considering that AWW app is primarily a drawing board, we could assume that results would show something similar. Other tools participate in a total tool usage with 8% combined.

The most popular AWW colors

 

AWW colors
AWW colors

There were slight smaller differences between color usage, than between tool usage. We picked five most used colors out of eight in total. You seemed to like red the most, as it placed as a number one used color. Red is used in almost three out of ten drawing sessions. Blue settled on the second place, with 16% of total color usage. Blue is followed by black, with its share of little bit under 16%. Green and pink settled on the last two places on the list. Surprisingly, yellow didn’t enter the top 5 colors list.

What colors or tools would you like to have in AWW? If you have suggestions, we would like to hear them. Write us at dorotea@awwapp.com

AWW Introduces New Features: Features For Teachers Part 5

For the last few months, lots of teachers have asked us about possibility to upload PDF and PPT files into AWW whiteboard. Your suggestions and opinions matter to us, so we rolled up our sleeves and done some work. From now on you can upload your presentations and documents into the board and have a full teaching experience.

What Can PDF/PPT Upload Do For Your Classroom

This feature can transform your reading lessons. If you are an English, or foreign language teacher, this will probably be a game changer for your reading class preparation. Let your students circle out unknown words, phrases or synonyms, and make a group discussion.

Grammar classes can work like a dream! Just upload your PDF and every page of the document will show up in the separate page of the board. Let your students annotate transition words and passive forms with a touch of their fingers.

Annotating with AWW app
Annotating with AWW board. Courtesy of Adam

Make an interactive presentation combining PPT files and multiple pages on the board. Every slide of presentation will show up in the separate page of the board. Students can write their comments and annotate objects in the presentation without leaving their seats.

PPT upload combining with AWW multipage
Every slide is shown in the separate page

How To Upload PDFs And PPTs Into AWW

This is a premium feature, so in order to unlock it you have to sign up for one of our premium plans. Signing up for any of our plans unlocks 30 day free trial. After signing in, go over to a tool bar, and at the end of a lower row you’ll find a tool for PDF/ PPT upload.

PDF and PPT file upload into the AWW app
How to upload PDF & PPT files

Hope you’ll have a nice teaching with AWW!

 

AWW Introduces New Features: Features For Teachers Part 4

We in AWW want to redefine the process of learning by empowering teachers with useful educational technology. Therefore, our developer team is constantly working on adapting our features to suite the needs of teachers and students. That is why we started developing set of features that will integrate AWW with Google Classroom. First one in the row is AWW board share to Google Classroom. 

What Can Google Classroom Bring You?

Google Classroom can be considered as the most powerful tool in education technology. It is easy to use tool accessible from all devices. There is a variety of smart ways to use Google Classroom.

You can create an assignment and deliver it with a click of the button. The need for paper wasting is reduced with this tool. You pick from variety of Google Docs from Google Drive to create your assignment. Creating, correcting and validating assessments was never easier than with Google Form quizzes.

One of the greatest things about Google Classroom is sending feedback in real time. Students can make comments on assignments within seconds from their delivery. This is the great way to test how your students feel about your assignment- was it clear, or they need a little bit more help from your side. They can comment privately, so fear from being embarrassed or labeled as less achieving is reduced to zero.

You can also use Google Classroom as an inspirational tool. It is a pool of educational resources collected from a community of teachers. If you don’t feel quite creative or you lack of inspiration to create motivating lesson, you can check on other teachers’ lessons and get inspired by them.

It is a collaboration toolinvite other teachers to join your course and make a group project. Include specialists from different study fields and create interdisciplinary lessons.

Have your introverts to speak up! Stage fright and other limitations of a traditional classroom are diminished for those shy students.

Use Google Classroom as your pin board. Write announcements for your students and their parents using Google Classroom announcements. You can also ask for student and parent feedback sending annual or monthly questionnaires.

GGoogle Classroom share link
Google Classroom share link

Mix AWW With Google Classroom To Make The Best Results

Combining this two apps you’ll make the most of your classroom. Simplicity of AWW and resourcefulness of Google Classroom are winning combination. There are three biggest use cases that will transform your class:

Share your AWW board and use it to create assignments with a click of the button. With a variety of AWW tools, assignments are more creative than ever.

Keep your students in touch by sharing AWW lessons with those that were not able to participate in class due to sickness or other reasons.

Invite senior teachers to your Google Classroom course and use their help, or share it with a group of teachers to make a collaborative project.

Enable Google Classroom
Enable Google Classroom

To unlock this feature you’ll have to sign up on our web page and check the Enable Google Classroom integration box in your account details. When you click on the invite to board button, there will also be a link to share the board on the Google Classroom.

 

AWW Introduces New Features: Features For Teachers Part 3

Have you ever thought of how it would be really cool to draw something on AWW and than slide to another page to draw something new without the need to erase previous drawings? Well, this is your happy day! We have worked hard on creating feature that will allow you to do exactly that. Now we can proudly announce that  multipage board is out! 

Organize Your Drawings With Multipage Board

Multipage board feature allows you to make separated drawings without using new board or erasing drawings from current one. Creating new page is as easy as clicking on the + button at the bottom of the board. Content of every page is visible to all participants invited to the board.

With multipage board you can easily navigate through your drawings as there is a pagination and the arrow on the bottom of each page. Therefore, there’s no longer a need for using confusing pointer tool. Whatever page teacher is interacting with, students will see that exact page.

AWW Multipage board
AWW Multipage board

Let Your Students Collaborate & Interact

As a teacher, you often need to structure your lessons into differently themed chapters. With multipage board you are able to organize your chapters with as many pages as you need. For instance, you can structure your literature lessons into the pages associated with specific writer.

Using multipage feature will unleash students’ creativity in classroom group assignments. For instance, you can let your students to create educational collaborative comic with a historical person as a main character.

Try It For Free

Multipage feature is a premium feature that is available in all AWW premium plans. You can start a one month free trial by registering at awwapp.com/register and see how it works for you.

Join AWW Ambassador Program

You love AWW app and want to share your love with others? You are a school technology instructor or edtech conference speaker? Join our Ambassador program and get access to cool benefits.

What Is AWW Ambassador Program?

AWW ambassador program is intended for all AWW users who want to promote and spread the word about AWW on conferences, workshops, and similar events. Specifically, it’s not a financial reward program (we do have a separate affiliate program).

What Can AWW Ambassador Program Offer You?

As a token of thanks, we are giving out a Personal premium plan to every ambassador, for as long as he’s active within the program. Also, this is an opportunity for an ambassador to be among first to try out our new premium features.

Also, we’ll provide you with a special promo QR code and a link that you can share with your audience. The link and QR code include ambassador’s name. Anybody who signs up with your link or code will get 2 months free of any premium plan. 

www.awwapp.com/info/plans/?ref=*your_name*

Requirements

Ambassador is considered active when promoting or showcasing AWW in 3 or more events in a school year. Event size is not specified – it can be as simple as a school district meeting, or big as an annual conference. Specifically, we would not require ambassadors to structure their presentation or topic in any way. We would like that the content and structure of your presentation reflects how you feel about AWW and how you use it!

Any person who is legally an adult in United States and United Kingdom is eligible for the program.

AWW Support

Every ambassador will have our support. When entering the program you’ll get guidelines and preparation material with key facts and graphics you could use in your presentations, along with your QR code and link. Moreover, we’ll prepare promo materials (use cases, videos, product updates) that we’ll send you regularly to keep you updated.

How To Join In?

If this sounds good to you – here’s what you need to do. Send an e-mail to ambassador@awwapp.com with a name, surname and an e-mail address with which you have previously registered on our page. We will provide you with a Premium plan using that e-mail address.

AWW Introduces New Features: Features For Teachers Part 2

We can proudly announce that another feature for teachers is out and ready: AWW presents board invitation via QR code!

Simplify your classroom collaboration

Having in mind that simplicity is one of AWW’s key advantages, we didn’t hesitate when you have suggested us this awesome feature. With QR code invitation classroom collaboration is even simpler than before. Teachers can share their boards with students in matter of seconds and focus on what really matters – teaching.

AWW QR Code

How to share boards via QR code?

There is absolutely the same invitation mechanism as before, only with slight improvement. When you click on the “invite to board” button, QR code will generate along with the invitation link. Right click on the QR code and press “Open image in new tab”. By opening the QR code in another tab in full size on the projection screen, students can take photos of QR codes from their seats. Shared boards will then automatically open on their mobile phones. That easy!

 

How To Become AWW Affiliate Partner

Every entrepreneur can agree that most valuable resource of every company or brand are their customers! We in AWW appreciate our customers very much and we’re thinking of way to reward them for their engagement. Therefore, we started an affiliate program. 

What Can Affiliate Partner Program Offer You?

AWW affiliate program offers you an opportunity to earn a little extra money while promoting app that you love. AWW app offers a range of premium plans with subscription fees. By becoming an affiliate partner you are eligible to earn an entire amount of one month subscription fee. That means if someone subscribes for a personal plan with your code – you’ll get $10, and if someone subscribes for an enterprise plan – you’ll get $100!

What Do You Need To Do?

If this sounds good to you send an e-mail to affiliate@awwapp.com with your data:

Name

Surname

E-mail address with which you have registered at awwapp.com

PayPal account E-mail address

And we’ll get back to you with the URL link that contains your referral code like in the example below:

www.awwapp.com/register/?ref=*code*

This acts like your individual URL and it tracks all the traffic and subscriptions that came trough your code. You can put that URL wherever you think people who might have interest in AWW will see it. If you are an educational technology blogger your blog would be the perfect place! You have strong presence on your social networks – put URL on your post! If you’ re kicking in making awesome video tutorials – include your link there! There are no quotas or KPIs. It’s all up to you!

When Do You Get Your Money

You will get paid for every eligible subscription. Eligible subscription occurs when the subscriber, who registers via your URL link and subscribes for a plan, completes his second month of subscription. After second month of subscription ends, you will get your earnings at the first day of the calendar month coming after it. That means if someone subscribes at 15th day of January, his trial ends at 15th of February and he proceeds with second month of subscription ending at 15th of March, you will get payed at April 1st. You will be able to see your earnings on your affiliate dashboard. To enter your dashboard, just enter your profile details and click on the affiliate dashboard button.

Who Is Eligible To Become A Part Of Affiliate Program?

Any person who is legally an adult and is the citizen of United States can join the program.

How To Set Up Online School Smart Board With AWW App

With AWW smart board alternative every school and teacher can afford to use advanced edtech. It is an economical smart board alternative that will reduce your costs! Find out how to set up your own AWW smart board in three easy steps!  

Works on every device

AWW app is a web based app. That means AWW can work with any device or browser! AWW works whether your school has BYOD concept or has invested in their own laptops or tablets.

Sharing boards

AWW is a collaborative whiteboard. That means you can invite other participants to collaborate with you on the same board. Inviting is pretty easy to do – just click on the invite button and share generated a link to whomever you want.

Using AWW with a projection screen

The above-mentioned features allow teachers to use AWW as a smart board alternative! Teachers can easily make their low-cost smartboard with this three-step process:

AWW Smart Board Alternative
Using AWW With Projector. Courtesy of Tracey Mikos 
  1. Open AWW app on a tablet or smartphone

  2. Invite students to the board

  3. Share a board link to the PC connected to a projector

Voila! Everything that teacher writes or draws is shown on the projection screen! 

With AWW teachers can walk down the class with tablets in hands and interact with their students, uninhibited with limitations of PC. Students can collaborate and draw at the same time. As opposed to other smart boards, AWW doesn’t have limits on how many students can draw simultaneously.

AWW Introduces New Features: Features For Teachers Part 1

For the past few months, AWW team had worked hard on the market research trying to improve AWW and adapt it for the educational needs. We wanted to design online whiteboard for teachers with their help. So, we asked teachers how do they use AWW, what they feel about it and what are we still missing!

Online Whiteboard for Teachers is Getting Keyboard Shortcuts

One of the features that you repeatedly asked us for were keyboard shortcuts. So, we decided that shortcuts will be the first thing on our developer’s To Do list. Now, we can proudly announce that they are out!

Here is the list of  keyboard shortcuts you can use on our online whiteboard for teachers:

p = pencil
t = text
e = eraser
u = undo
1 – 5 = tool size
i = invite to board

Update:

  • space = pan
  • l = line
  • r = rectangle / filled rectangle
  • b = ellipse / filled ellipse
  • m = mark
  • d = PDF/PPT upload
  • h = highlighter
  • v = select (Hold CMD/Ctrl for temporary select)
  • n = notes
  • s = save board

Now you can draw on our online whiteboard without hassle. You can focus on what really matters – visualizing lectures and collaborating with your students.

Features For Teachers Series

This is only the first improvement in our series Features for Teachers.  In the next few weeks, we are adding some more teacher-oriented features in our paid plans. Keep following us and be the first to try them out!

Edtech Era: Advantages Of Using Online Smart Board In Digital Classroom

A number of teachers may not yet be aware of the benefits of using smart technology in classrooms. One of the most used pieces of educational smart technology are smart boards – interactive whiteboards that give students the ability to learn both independently and collaboratively. However, with a development of cloud technology, standard smart boards are becoming outdated. Collaborative online whiteboard, used as classroom online smart board, presents a low-cost alternative for standard digital smart boards.

This article will demonstrate both general benefits of using smart boards in classrooms and specific advantages of online smart boards over standard technology.

Embracing Smart Board Technology In The Classroom

Here is a list of some of the most important advantages of using smart boards in classrooms.

Enhancing Student’s Learning Experience

Smart board technology provides enriched learning experience by projecting visual elements. Visual learners can observe the projection screen/board while tactical learners can learn by touching the tablet or laptop screen.

Smart Means Interactive

Research has repeatedly demonstrated that students learn best when there is involved use of hands or they are touching with their hands – in other words hands on–learning. Smart board interactivity provides students the ability to write and draw by the touch of a stylus pen or a finger.

Focusing On Lectures

Students can use teacher’s notes projected on the screen/board and save them or send them via e-mail. They do not need to take them by themselves, which lets them focus better on the content of the lectures.

Classroom Collaboration
The role of smart boards in classroom collaboration – source: elearninginfographics.com

Collaboration

Probably the most important advantage of smart board technology over traditional board is the ability of collaboration. Students can write or draw at the same time on the same canvas thus stimulating creativity.

 Access To Online Resources

Students and teachers can easily access a wide range of online resources via laptop or tablet necessary for interactive lectures or collaborative schoolwork.

 Interactive Whiteboard
Interactive whiteboard – source: cultofpedagogy.com

Online Smart Board VS Standard Smart Board Technology

We have learned that smart boards are useful educational tool that helps teachers to empower their lectures. However, there are some considerable downsides of using smart boards, too.

Downsides of Standard Smart Board Technology 

First of all, smart boards can be really big investment – the cost of a smart board with full equipment can go up to $5.000! That is quite a sum, especially for classrooms with fewer students. Furthermore, in the best-case scenario, only five students can write on the board simultaneously. That means not the whole class can participate in collaborative work, but only few students. Another big issue, that you should consider, is the matter of endurance and board maintenance costs. Classroom full of children running around is not the safest environment for the high-end technology prone to be scratched or turned over.

Alternative 

However, there is an alternative. AWW is the first online smart board app designed for in-class use that is compatible with all devices, operational systems and browsers. That means greater flexibility for schools who don’t have budget for smart boards or laptops for every student. With AWW every student can bring his own device and simply draw on it. Only thing school has to provide is a projector and a projection screen. Teacher can open AWW online smart board on tablet, then share the board on the computer connected with projector and everything that teacher draw will show on a projection screen. Best thing of all is, AWW has absolutely no limits regarding simultaneity: everyone can participate at once.

Here is a full table of features comparing online and standard smart board.

FEATURE AWW ONLINE SMART BOARD STANDARD SMART BOARD
Cost Low Cost High Cost
Billing Interval Monthly Subscription At Once
Compatibility All Devices, OS And Browsers Particular Devices/ OS
Simultaneity No limits Limited up to 5 users
Installation Not Required Required
Maintenance Requires Any Software and Hardware Maintenance