Software

Google Jamboard: How to edit and share Jams from your browser

In September 2018, Google enhanced the company's visual collaboration system, Jamboard, with new ways to edit and share Jams.

Google's visual collaboration system, which includes both the Jamboard device and Jamboard apps, gives people who use G Suite (and their collaborators) the ability to create and modify Jams. You might think of a Jam as a persistent visual place that doesn't take up space. Each Jam consists of one—or many—rectangular frames filled with images, notes, or sketches.

Jamboard initially worked only on BenQ-built hardware sold by Google, but later expanded to apps. Most Jamboard features, for example, are available in tablet apps. (See: 5 clever ways to use Google Jamboard tablet apps even without a Jamboard to learn more.) As of October 2018, the Jamboard smartphone apps for Android and iOS offer a smaller set of features than the Jamboard device and tablet apps. For example, you can search (and then insert images and pages) from the web in the tablet apps, but not from within the smartphone apps.

In September 2018, Google improved Jamboard in two important ways.

Jam in a browser

First, you can now create Jams, add notes, draw, and erase with Jamboard from the web. Sign in to Chrome or a Chromebook with your G Suite account, then go to https://jamboard.google.com. Select the + button in the lower-right portion of the screen to start a new Jam or open an existing Jam. With a Jam open, explore the controls on the left side of the screen to add, edit, or remove content on the board. (As of October 2018, the browser-based version of Jamboard offers fewer editing functions than the tablet app.)

Screenshot of Jam from a Chrome browser (on a Chromebook) with edit note menu shown.

You can create a Jam, add and edit notes, and draw and erase in Jamboard from the web.

Share view-only access

Second, you may now add a collaborator to a Jam, but give them "view only" access. This allows a person to join a Jam, yet also prevents the person from modifying it. This allows you and your team of collaborators with full edit access to continue to make changes as people with "view only" access watch, but with no need to worry about changes from people with "view only" access. You might think of this as a virtual way to keep the dry erase markers out of the hands of specific people, while still letting them see your boards.

Chrome browser screenshot, shows add person feature with VIEW ONLY (along with EDIT) option available.

Add a collaborator with view-only access, to allow them to access, but not modify, a Jam.

Both of these changes are good signs that the team continues to enhance and refine Jamboard.

Animated help on mobile

Yet one of the most interesting features of Jamboard can be found in the help section of the Jamboard smartphone and tablet apps. Open the Jamboard app on an iPhone, iPad, or on Android device, and tap the three line menu in the upper left, then tap Help. You'll see a set of videos that show how to use many key Jamboard features. Tap one, and you'll see a bit of text accompanied by a brief animation that shows a specific task. And the videos loop, too. (On the web, Google offers standard, text-based Jamboard help.)

Landscape orientation screenshot of iPad Jamboard app help. Shows several rows of rectangles (grouped by task) with a short title on each that indicates topic shown in video.

Explore video help in the tablet and smartphone Jamboard apps.

A video-based help system for Jamboard makes a great deal of sense to me. Visual thinkers may also be visual learners. And while application documentation and help should always be accessible to everyone in text, video help that shows how to use specific features is a welcome addition—especially within this type of visually-oriented app.

Your thoughts?

How do you use the Jamboard device and/or app at work? Do you prefer the device or the Jamboard tablet, browser, or smartphone apps? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter ( @awolber).

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About Andy Wolber

Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

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