Just Sittin' Here Twiddla my Thumbs

Written By Dave on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 | 4:30:00 AM

Sometimes as an instructor, it is nice to have an online venue where synchronous gatherings can be productive. Imagine hosting a Homework Helpline every night from 7pm to 8pm. Or having an online enrichment lesson on Bernoulli's Principle. Or having a sweet game of distance Pictionary.

Most LMSs have some type of mechanism built in (Elluminate, Collaborate, etc.). There are also services such as GoToMeeting and WebEx (some offer free versions that have limited functionality).

But there's another option out there!

Hello! My name is Twiddla!

I found this gem while authoring a book on free resources that work within the framework of any LMS. There are other free services out there, but Twiddla is my favorite. 

In the realm of free online meeting spaces and whiteboards, Twiddla is the best in show. 

  • It works on an iPad (both as a consumer and a creator)
  • It looks wonderful when embedded in an iFrame
  • The sessions can be password protected to keep out the riff-raff
  • The session can be archived
  • Images, documents, formulas, shapes, and annotations can all be used
  • Text comes in a few different flavors - regular text, word balloons, sticky notes, and boxes
  • It supports audio
Yeah. Pretty much everything. And you don't even need an account. You can do it on the fly by just hitting the "GO" button.

No account necessary; just hit GO!

Of course, you get more functionality with an account. But it's still free. And if you are an educator, then you get all the goodies associated with a paid account. Go here and scroll all the way to the bottom to see how.

So here is a snapshot of Twiddla in action:

Twiddla in action

It is ridiculously easy to use. Like, stupid easy. And since users don't need an account to participate (if you make it open), you just have to give them the link (like, say, in your LMS). The best part is that you could set up the session in your LMS, and then go to the Twiddla URL for that session on your iPad and use a stylus for writing and annotating. So my workflow is as follows:

  1. Start a Twiddla and copy the URL
  2. Paste the URL into a link in your LMS - tell the students to go there at 7:00pm
  3. Go to your iPad and type in the URL into your browser
    1. Bookmark it! You can use that same link week after week
    2. At 7:00pm, go to the Twiddla site (you don't need to even visit your LMS!)
  4. Twiddla away!

You can also recycle the URL for a session, so that students can go to the same place each week for help.

I would also recommend reading up on In Private Browsing so that you can test the student perspective (by having two different identities playing on the same canvas).

Yeah, it's pretty sick. Give Twiddla a whirl and let me know what you think!

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