If you work with a virtual team, odds are that you rely on some sort of conferencing system to keep in touch. When it comes to group collaboration, data conferencing is great because it allows team members to work simultaneously on the same document irrespective of their geographic location. Whatever conferencing application you use, it makes sense that you should be able to use a whiteboard and a computer when you're brainstorming with your team.

Most data conferencing packages have recognized the need for a whiteboarding application. However, you generally need to write notes using a mouse (rather than a pen). For most of us, using a mouse to write notes is incredibly time-consuming, and nearly impossible to do legibly.

SMART Technologies Inc. has come up with a solution by providing an intuitive whiteboarding option for distance collaboration. The SMART Board interactive whiteboard lets you write notes in electronic ink and save those notes to a computer. If you don't like what you've written, pick up the eraser and erase it. You don't need to worry about the mouse the SMART Board interactive whiteboard uses the same tools as a traditional whiteboard. You can also control any computer application directly from the board's large, touch-sensitive surface.

The SMART Board interactive whiteboard is now seamlessly integrated with Microsoft's NetMeeting software (a free data conferencing package available with Microsoft Windows 95 and higher). This means you can use NetMeeting software to share documents in real time with colleagues in remote locations. When you want to write notes or draw diagrams, you can use the SMART Board interactive whiteboard's whiteboarding feature. Or write notes over top of applications to highlight important information. All conference participants will see what you have written or drawn exactly as you've recorded it on the SMART Board interactive whiteboard.

"I might circle some information on a slide and ask someone in California a question about it. Because we both have SMART Board interactive whiteboards, my team members see the annotations I've made on my slides. As a remote team member begins working on the solution at his SMART Board interactive whiteboard, I see his work as he writes it."

Mark Myers
Siemens AG

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