/ When Breakout Rooms Break, Jamboards Put the Pieces Together

The Business/SPEA Library at Indiana University Bloomington enjoys a deeply embedded relationship with the Business Communications faculty at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. Each semester, thousands of undergraduates enrolled in their 100- and 200-level courses receive in-person library instruction. These sessions were lively and interactive, often involving friendly competition among teams of students to find information in a given research context. This high-contact relationship with undergraduates immeasurably increased the visibility of library services and fostered positive connections among students, faculty, and business librarians.

I became aware of the utility of Google Jamboard (Jamboard) during a keynote address given at the Teach, Play, Learn conference hosted by Indiana University (Strange, 2020). The rapid shift to online learning brought on by the pandemic provided a golden opportunity to experiment with Jamboards following an epic fail with Zoom.

The shift to online learning due to the pandemic was fraught with difficulties. During the first attempt at synchronous online instruction, two library instructors joined a Zoom class meeting. When it came time for the team competitions, student teams were moved into pre-assigned breakout rooms. Assigning and moving students in and out of rooms was time consuming. Worse, only one host could move between rooms, rendering the additional instructor stuck with one group of students for the duration of the allotted time.

Eager to explore other modalities, I decided to try Jamboard for online synchronous instruction the following semester. During these sessions, I deployed two instances of Jamboards in which students were asked to engage with the IBISWorld and Nexis Uni databases, respectively. The Jamboard provided a forum for student responses, replacing the hastily blurted out answers during a typical in-person instruction session.

In both instances, students were eager to post answers in the hope of winning the prize, a dossier of case research. They easily added content to the Jamboard, demonstrating a familiarity or ease with the software. At the end of the collaborative session, I paused and discussed critically why some of the information contained in their responses was more or less valuable in a business research context - all while students viewed the shared document. In this way, I was able to award points in a transparent manner. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Jamboard of student response during competition.Figure 1. Jamboard of student response during competition.

The resultant Jamboards also provided a durable artifact reflecting student knowledge and gaps in understanding. For example, when a number of students provided a URL to an article from the browser, I seized the opportunity to address the use of permalinks. I adjusted my activity so that students could practice identifying and using permalinks. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Adjusted Jamboard based on student response.Figure 2. Adjusted Jamboard based on student response.

Jamboard proved to be an excellent tool for helping to shape the instruction session while it was happening, as well as planning prompts for future sessions. Moving forward, Jamboard will likely be a staple for both online and in-person instruction in the Business Communications courses. If you would like to learn more about Jamboard, Google provides extensive training and support here: Google for Education: Teacher Center (https://teachercenter.withgoogle.com/first-day-trainings/welcome-to-jamboard).


  • Strange, K. (2020, June). Keynote. Teach, play, learn. Online conference presentation hosted by Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.