Tip Sheet: Whiteboarding Online

For many subjects, visual representation of concepts and thought processes is an important tool for communicating these ideas with students. In a physical classroom environment, it is fairly simple to draw on a chalkboard or whiteboard. In virtual environments such as Zoom, however, this can be more challenging. While Zoom does have a “whiteboard” feature, the ease of using that feature is greatly enhanced if you have a touchscreen or drawing tablet to write on.

Based on the flowchart below, navigate to the section in this document that will help you get started teaching with visual drawing online.

Use Your Mouse on the Whiteboard Feature in Zoom

Using the whiteboard within a Zoom session using only your laptop or computer and your mouse is definitely possible, albeit not very precise. The handy part of this option is that you can jump right in for more basic drawings, however, will have more difficulty with more advanced concepts and drawings. 


To use the whiteboard feature in Zoom, you first need to learn how to share your screen. By clicking on the “Share” or “Share Screen” icon within your zoom session, you can select the whiteboard as an option to share. You can either use this whiteboard to present to the class, or else to collaborate with others. 

Visit the official Zoom help site for step-by-step instructions for starting a whiteboard.

Recording on Your Own Time with Phone Camera

In many cases, recording your video will be easier on your own time and at your own pace. In this case, the best option may be to not use Zoom at all! Consider recording yourself drawing on your own time, then sharing that recording with your students in Canvas. A simple recording using your smartphone can capture a concept you are communicating—otherwise, if you have the budget, you can purchase some accessories that will make this process easier. At the end of the day, you just need to accomplish two things:

  1. Record the Video
  2. Share the Video with your students in Canvas

Record the Video

Consider using your smartphone or another camera to record a video of yourself drawing using a sharpie or other marker. You can prop up your phone using materials you have at home (boxes, books, boards, etc.). You might also consider purchasing a mount or accessory that makes it easier to record yourself drawing. Where possible, consider connecting a microphone to your phone (wired or wireless) to improve the audio in your recording. 


There are ways to record yourself writing either top down on a table surface. This will be made easier with accessories that will hold your phone or camera. Otherwise you can get away with spacing out two boxes (or pile of books), and placing a board or other flat object between the two where you can place your smartphone camera.

If you don’t have any boxes or boards, or another means of propping up your phone above a piece of paper such as a few soup cans, there are a few accessories that might help record from a top-down perspective. 

Slightly nicer option – clamps to a table or desk.

Sharing the Video with Students

Once you’ve recorded a drawing video, you can upload it to your course. We’ve listed a few options here below with links to step by step instructions. 

Smartphone or Tablet with Finger or Stylus During a Zoom Session

You can use your smartphone or tablet to draw in a Zoom session fairly easily. By joining the Zoom session with only your smartphone or tablet device, you can draw directly on the whiteboard when sharing. The disadvantage, however, is that you will have fewer options for seeing your students while you draw. Consider this option for when you only need to draw in shorter increments, or if you feel confident with navigating a mobile device. 

  1. Download the Zoom app for mobile devices ahead of time. 
  2. Join the session from your mobile device. See the links below for step by step instruction
  3. Draw on your screen with a finger or stylus., using the icons on the tablet screen to adjust and format your drawing options
  4. When finished, select the “Stop Share” icon

Use a Mobile Device in Addition to Your Computer during a Zoom Session

Another option is to use a smartphone or tablet to join a session that you are already hosting from your laptop or pc. This option will provide you an optimal set of options; you can gauge participation and communicate with your students on your computer while having more control and finesse to draw on your tablet device. However, the disadvantage is that if you have a bad internet connection, this will take more bandwidth. Also, you will need to keep track of two devices, which may or may not get in the way if you are uncomfortable with too many devices.


  1. Join Zoom on your Mac or PC computer as the host
  2. Join via your smartphone (iOS or Android) or tablet using the mobile app
    • When asked whether to join the audio on your tablet, select “cancel” or “do not join audio”. This is important because you are already in the audio on your computer
  3. While in the session on your mobile device, tap on the screen, tap the “Share Content” option, and then the “whiteboard” option 
  4. Draw on your screen with a finger or stylus., using the icons on the tablet screen to adjust and format your drawing options
  5. When finished, select the “Stop Share” icon

Connecting a graphic design tablet to your computer

Finally, you can also connect a graphic design tablet to your computer. These devices allow you to plug in a tablet (comes with a stylus that lets you draw on a surface without a screen) that you can draw on while looking at your computer. By connecting a graphic tablet (without wifi connectivity) to your computer, you can use it as a second input device (essentially functioning as a second mouse). Graphic Designers use these tablets to create digital logos and art, however, the price has gone down considerably in recent years and can give you a much higher degree of control when paired with the Zoom Whiteboard. 

This approach will give you more control over your drawing, maintain a better perspective for communicating with students. However, depending on your chosen device and your computer setup, there may be more technical steps and troubleshooting specific to your situation in the beginning until you get going. 

Here are a few devices that you might consider using for this approach:

Some brands that have been recommended (Source):

Once you have purchased a device, the overall steps for using a graphic design tablet with the whiteboard in Zoom are as follows:

  1. Connect the Device to your computer, and ensure that it is working
  2. Start up your Zoom Session, and share the Whiteboard
  3. Pick up your stylus and draw on the tablet while looking at your screen. 

Connect the Device to Your Computer

Most of these devices will connect directly to your computer using a USB connection. Once connected, you may need to take additional steps depending on the device you purchased such as installing software or ensuring that your computer is detecting the device. 

  • Follow the directions given with your product purchase
  • For additional assistance getting your device working, UIS or CETS (help@georgetown.edu) may be able to help, but you are also encouraged to consult the device manufacturer via their contact or troubleshooting pages

Start up Your Zoom Session, and share the Whiteboard

Once your device is connected, join your zoom session as you normally would either in your canvas course or using the Zoom Link. Then when the time is right, share your screen using the “whiteboard” option. 

  • Visit the official zoom help site for step-by-step instructions for starting a whiteboard
  • When your screen is being shared through your computer, you can draw on the tablet while looking at your computer screen, similar to how you would use a mouse except with more detailed control of the pointer.