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I have students, but dont have whiteboard to teach

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There are free versions of server-based whiteboards like www.scribblar.com, www.wiziq.com, and www.dimdim.com
and there are commercial whiteboards, too. My impression is that www.scribblar.com is not bad, but all these server-based whiteboards are way too clumsy for my taste (I am tutoring math, thus I need to write lots and lots of formulas, and frequently insert graphics - raster images and vectorgraphics).

Depending on what subject you intend to teach, you'll also need a device that allows you to write relatively easily and neatly on a shared whiteboard.
Ideally, you could use a tablet-pc and a whiteboard that can capture the real pen input on such a tablet-pc. (The above mentioned server based whiteboards cannot do that.)
Other solutions, besides a tablet-pc, are to use small external tablets, like a Genius or Wacom tablet, or a USB pen.

I cannot advise you as regards USB pens, but I have been using a Wacom tablet for some time: it works, but it's not ideal (i.e. not exactly a natural way of writing: because the surface you are writing on - the external tablet - is not the surface on which your handwriting will appear - namely: the screen).
That's why I switched from using an external graphics tablet to a real tablet-pc and a shared whiteboard of my own. For a demo, see http://homepage.swissonline.ch/mathcoach/Frame/English/NetDeskSharp...
Thanks for sharing this information with us Christian!!

How to buy a tablet-pc ?? what is the cost ?? 

 

So, christian, u mean to say that for math tutoring, it is better to use a combination of server based white boards & external tablet-pc ?? 

 my understanding is - server based boards are software boards & external tablets are hardware boards - real boards on which you write? am i correct ? so, how do i make sure the student is able to see the external board writing? kindly explain.. 

 

 Please clarify on this.. im TOTALLY new to all this.. 

Hi Giridhar.

Sorry for being slow to answer. If you are TOTALLY new to this, it may help to watch the video that I have on my website here. Even though this student thinks that online tutoring works really well, he mentions that the most difficult thing for him was to learn to write "on this pad". That "pad" is what I call an external (graphics) tablet. It is external in the sense that it is not built into the screen and if you "write on it" (with a special pen) that writing does not appear on the pad (i.e. the surface on which you are writing), but on the screen of  your pc. So  writing this way does not feel entirely natural and requires some getting used to.

 Therefore it would be preferable to be able to write directly with a (special) pen onto the surface of the screen and have your handwriting appear just below the tip of your pen as you are writing, thus giving an experience closely similar to writing on a sheet of paper. This can be done with what I call an "internal tablet", i.e. a graphics tablet that is built into the surface of the screen of your display.

It seems you are planning to tutor math and physics. In that case I believe that you would at least require an external tablet: otherwise it would be unbearably difficult and slow to enter formulas and small sketches into the shared whiteboard that you and your student can observe.

To try one of the free server-based shared whiteboards you might want to take a look at skrbl. Try to write with the mouse for example. I'm confident that you will quickly appreciate the problem of finding a better way of sharing your handwriting and sketches...

So the next best thing to a mouse would be an external tablet (like the Wacom Bamboo - just google for it)  or, possibly, a so called USB pen. Even better would be to have a tablet-pc (i.e. a pc with an internal tablet: that is built into the surface of the screen). But tablet-pc's cost more.

Also, and now I come to the question of server-based shared whiteboards, high quality pen input from a tablet-pc is not available with whiteboards like skrbl (see above), DimDim or WizIQ. This is because for applications running in the browser and being based on Java or Flash the pen input on a tablet-pc gets reduced to a  much lower quality mouse trace ( which means: lower resolution, no pressure information to naturally let the width of a pen stroke vary according to the amount of pressure you apply to the tip of the pen). In such cases, writing on a tablet-pc still feels more natural than writing with an external tablet, but the handwriting you get on the whiteboard does not look any better than a mouse trace as regards the details of the stroke path (like resolution and pressure information). This is especially obvious if you try to print it out on paper...

I have also written about various problems and ideas that I have encountered when tutoring math online on my blog, so you may want to have a look at that...

Regards and my best wishes,

Christian

Thank you for your comments on the topics.It is very useful to the new ones who enter this field.Please note that some of your links does not work. for example Link appearing as "my blog" and "here" do not work.If you make these correct, it will be very helpful,encouraging and enlightening  those searching for more stuff on the matter.  -Kmrjith-

You can try Wacom OR 'iball' . go to their website to find the location of offics in your town. Pen tablets are freely available in electronic shops. I found Wacom better though more expensive
I have planned to teach math using www.scribblar.com. Will it be good to teach math.I just went through it.I want to know the best way to teach MATH using it.Will it work well alone. Or will i need to get a pen tablet? Ideas are welcomed to get the most out of it.Is free hand writing comfortable while teaching MATH? How do students work out problems under our supervision? Will students use the tools of www.scribblar.com with ease?
Why can't the teacher use a webcam, write on a board as if in class and have the student view that? When the student wants to write use the chat box, or write on paper and hold it up for the teacher to view.  no need for complicated white boards.  Has anyone tried that?

My prefered choice is Scriblink.com

I tried TalkAndWrite (extra with Skype) - easily integrates with Skype, but student should also have it installed and it is not free. I also tried WiziQ, has many technical issues, also you and the student should be a member of wiziq.com to give classes, I suppose.

But the best so far has been Scriblink.com - browser/java based, free, unlimited, just send a link to the student and we are in business \m/.

And for writing, I use a genius tablet/pen, connects via USB, easy to use. If we write a bit slower than usual, handwriting will come out good! no worries anyway as I use voice chat simultaneously, unlike what some "tutoring corporations" make you do -- use the chat, yak!!!

Hi Raghu.

 Glad it works for you. About two years ago I tried various free browser-based whiteboards (because I had a student who would have liked to be able to use his Mac for getting online tutoring - my pen-enabled whiteboard is, unfortunately, limited to Windows) and found all of them not exactly ideal as regards the quality of handwriting one gets and other issues of ease of use. Experience like that seems to have prompted Brian Armstrong to conclude that: "I feel like online tutoring really doesn’t work very well with any solution I’ve seen so far (for math and sciences), I think it works ok with some other subjects (like translation, and reviewing papers)."

But, as I said, the main point is that you can get your tools for free and find them reasonably effective and easy to use. I have been using what I call an external tablet for years (from 2002 to 2007 to be exact), but am using a tablet-pc now and am very happy with it.

Hi Raghu.

 Just as an afterthought I have uploaded an example of the contents of my whiteboard as PDF to my website here http://www.mathcoach.ch/Downloads/20101217-181539.pdf

Unfortunately the problem statements are in German (I do not have an English speaking student at the moment).

It looks better, I think, if you print out these A4 pages as two A5 pages side by side (if possible).

 

Maybe you want to compare this PDF with the quality of printout you get with a scriblink whiteboard?

 

This PDF document is about three times as large as the native storage format that my whiteboard uses.

  What you don't see in this PDF is the use of vector graphics: I can convert PDFs that I produce with tools of the TeX family (pdflatex, metapost, tikz/pgf, pstricks,..) to a vector graphics format that my whiteboard can display.

 

My impression is that my students are very happy having such (comparatively speaking) nice printouts of what transpired during an online-tutoring session. (Actually, most don't even realize how lucky they are, because they have no idea what the printouts they can get from other whiteboards look like!)

 

Regards,

Christian

Once go to scriblink.com

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