It is hard to find a whiteboard that works well for virtual teams. Many Web conferencing services include a simple whiteboard, but they tend to be feature-poor for real-time collaboration with virtual teams because they were designed to help presenters mark up presentations as they talk. The key features you need for a good collaboration whiteboard for virtual team meetings are

  • Large working surface, ideally expandable as content grows
  • Simultaneous input by all users
  • Extremely easy text entry and in-place editing
  • Intuitive and fast object movement around the drawing surface, especially text items
  • A decent selection of colors and shapes (but not too many)
  • Ability to add and delete additional pages
  • Ability for people to move to different pages to do work simultaneously on different topics

What is not obvious from this list is how subtle differences in the way features are implemented affect the usefulness of a whiteboard. We have used whiteboards with identical features with very different results. You must use a whiteboard in an actual collaborative session to appreciate its strengths and weaknesses.

Here is a screenshot of the NetMeeting whiteboard. It is simple and intuitive with excellent sketching and object movement performance.

Example NetMeeting whiteboard session

Example NetMeeting whiteboard session

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