"We’d like some training on the Office for iPad apps" said the email from an Australian customer. "No problem" I thought, before realising that 8am in Sydney is 11:00pm in the UK.
The training will be delivered online using Webex, so for this to work I need Airserver on my work Windows 7 laptop. Airserver, which is available for Mac and Windows, allows you to wirelessly mirror your iPad screen to your computer so that whatever is displayed on your iPad screen is displayed on your computer.
When the time comes to deliver the training, my laptop and iPad must be connected to the same wireless network. Then I’ll run Airserver on the laptop and enable Airplay and mirroring on my iPad. The iPad will display a list of devices on the network that are configured as Airplay receivers. From the list, I select my laptop as the device to mirror to.
So at this point whatever is displayed on my iPad screen is also displayed on my laptop. I’ll run Webex on my laptop and as I’ll be the presenter, I’ll share my laptop screen and whatever is being displayed on the laptop screen will be "broadcast" to the audience.
If you’re wondering why I can’t just use the Webex app on the iPad to demo the Office for iPad apps, that’s primarily used to attend Webex meetings and view content being shared by someone else. It is possible to share content from your iPad but you can only share files such as PDF’s. You can’t actually use it to demo apps and the iPad in general.
As well as allowing a presenter to share their screen with virtual attendees, Webex includes a "whiteboard" – a blank page that acts just like a conventional flip chart or whiteboard that you have in training rooms and meeting rooms.
Depending on assigned privileges, anyone attending the online session may be able to type text and draw on the whiteboard using special on-screen tools. At the end of the meeting or training session, the whiteboard content can be saved, as a PNG or a PDF, for future reference.
When I deliver face-to-face courses, there’s usually a whiteboard or flipchart in the room and more often than not, I use it to help explain a feature or concept. Usually I draw/write on the board "on the fly" but I know some Trainers who carry flip charts with pre-prepared content on them (you obviously can’t do that with whiteboards as they are usually screwed to the wall).
So back to my training. Although the training will focus on the Office for iPad apps, I’ll want to have a digital whiteboard available. I could use the one that is built in to Webex, but as I’ll already be sharing my iPad screen, it makes sense to keep everything "self contained" on the iPad rather than switching between the iPad and the Webex whiteboard.
To do this, I’ll use a £2.99 app called Whiteboard HD
The app allows you to have an unlimited number of whiteboards and when you start the app you can choose whether to open an existing whiteboard (if there are any) or create a new one. One of the benefits of this app is that you can create your whiteboards ahead of time and open them during the training session/meeting.
Whether you open an existing whiteboard or create a new one, your iPad screen looks like a whiteboard with a toolbox at the bottom
By tapping on the appropriate icons in the Toolbox, you can:
- Draw solid, dashed and dotted lines and arrows of varying thickness, length and colour
- Type text and apply different fonts and sizes
- Insert pictures from Dropbox, Box or the iPad’s Photo Library
For me, one of the most useful features is the five sets of pre-defined shapes:
- Plain shapes includes squares, circle, triangle and star
- Computers includes computers, mobile devices, printer and monitor
- Flowchart contains typical flowchart-type shapes
- Shapes contains a circle, a square, a square with rounded corners, several triangles and more
- Web Design contains shapes needed to create a diagram of a website structure such as a home page icon, a database shape and an envelope (email)
To add a shape or other object, you simply drag and drop it onto the whiteboard. If you need to move it, no problem – just use your finger to drag it to where you want it. If you want to delete it, tap it and tap the red X in the top right hand corner of the object.
Once the training session (or meeting) is over, you’ll probably want to share the whiteboard with others. Simply tap the share button at the top of the app and choose to E-mail or Dropbox or Box.net. You can also save the whiteboard to your iPad Photo Library and share from there)
Whiteboard HD is also an ideal tool for face-to-face training courses and meetings. If you have a VGA adapter for the iPad, connect it to a projector or large monitor and you instantly have a digital whiteboard. If others in the meeting also have Whiteboard HD, as long as their iPads are connected to the same WiFi network, you can share your whiteboards live with them so as you update your content, it appears on their iPad screen in real-time. The app have even got a built-in laser pointer!
Whiteboard HD is a great visualisation and brainstorming app. It cost’s £2.99 and is available from the App Store
Here’s a couple of whiteboards that I have created. The first one is a representation of a spreadsheet showing where a formula would be entered:
This one is a diagram that I created ahead of time for an online meeting with a web development team. It explains the relationship between different components of a course booking system that I created: