November 23rd, 2021 by Explain Everything Team

High school physics lessons with a digital whiteboard – by Jacob Bowman

physics lessons with a digital whiteboard

Meet Jacob Bowman, a physics teacher at Norwell High School, located just outside of Fort Wayne, Indiana. He teaches AP Physics 1 as well as an integrated chemistry and physics course. His students range from sophomores to high school seniors.

Jacob also has his own YouTube channel, Physics by Bowman, where he shares short explainer videos touching on a wide variety of physics topics. 

Discovering a digital whiteboard and creating physics video lessons

During Jacob’s junior year of college, one of his teachers asked the class to make a mock lesson plan using Explain Everything whiteboard. The shift away from simply filling out a Google doc template caught his attention and he immediately took to the app. It wasn’t until a few years later, however, when he himself became a teacher that he decided to start making videos for his own students using Explain Everything.

Back in 2019 he started his YouTube channel where he uploads videos covering a range of physics topics from kinematics to magnetic levitation. His videos have thousands of views and are popular not only with his students!

Here’s an example:

Benefits of teaching physics with whiteboard videos

  1. Creating whiteboard videos makes a room for lessons to be creative and interactive.

    One of the best things about Explain Everything according to Jacob, is that it makes classes more interactive for his students. In a standard school setting, lecturing eats into a lot of the time that could be spent interacting with students. This is a pain point for many teachers who want to keep their students engaged while at the same time presenting them with quality material. Creating video explanations for his students to watch frees up his time in the classroom and allows him to work more closely with his students instead of lecturing at the front of the classroom. 

If I’m lecturing, I’m probably not interacting with my students as much as if they were working in groups that I could, you know, bounce around and help them. If I make videos that they’re able to watch at home, we’re going to free up some class time. And that is a great benefit.

  1. Students learn at their own pace.

    Having students watch explainer physics videos allows them to follow at their own pace, pause to take a screenshot or make notes or to simply go back and rewatch something if they become distracted and miss a step of his explanations. This works great for a scenario where students learn at a different speed and helps them to not fall behind. 

It is just a matter of fact that at some point, I am going to write something down, move on to the next step. Even if I leave a little bit of time in there, and people are gonna miss it and they look up but in the video, they could just rewind. 

Learn how you can create and use whiteboard videos.

  1. Students are more interested when video lessons are created by their own teacher.

    Jacob has also found that YouTube videos are simply more interesting for students than material presented in lecture form. Watching whiteboard videos created by your teacher creates a more personal experience.

I think students in general just think it’s really cool, you know, they can go to my YouTube channel. They are like: “Wow, there’s the videos that my teacher is making!” I think the experience for students is overall, really positive. 

Best whiteboard app features to create physics lesson videos

We asked Jacob what makes Explain Everything his go-to digital whiteboard for teaching physics and here’s what he shared:

  1. Drawing straight lines and angles is super easy. Having a ruler (on iOS app version only for now but soon to be coming to other platforms, too) built into the app makes it fast and simple to draw precise lines on the canvas when presenting a physics problem. You can rotate the ruler and create various angles.

    Find how to use the Ruler Tool.
  1. Colorful opportunities. The wide variety of colors in the color palette gives him countless more possibilities than in a real classroom setting where he might be limited to only a few markers. This helps students process material more quickly and not get confused when too much information pops up on the board.

    Find out how to pick up the perfect color
  1. Graph background makes for better clarity. Jacob says it’s easy to keep things very neat and organized when using a graph background to present equations. It also makes it easier for students to follow and avoid mistakes.

    Find out how to change the background pattern and color.
  1. Unlimited space to write equations. Explain Everything’s infinite canvas means more room for complex equations. Explain Everything’s infinite whiteboard makes writing long, complicated equations easier and more organized. You don’t have to worry about running out of space. All you have to do is expand your canvas and keep writing. This allows you to make your writing as big and readable as you want, never running out of room.

    Find out how to move around the unlimited space with Zoom and Pan Tool.
  1. Organizing your whiteboard is simple. Jacob also suggests portioning your video lecture out onto slides, in order to separate various topics from each other and help students get a clearer understanding of each individual topic. He can then send it to his students as a project or export it as video.

    Learn how to work with slides.
  1. Creating videos in Explain Everything is teacher-friendly. Creating video lessons for your class is a matter of learning from your mistakes and Jacob says you almost always have to go back and redo some part of your recording. Explaining Everything makes this easy for him, as he can leave the visuals and simply redo the audio track, delete entire segments or small clips. He uses the timeline editing option to go back and add elements to his video. This saves him time and the frustration of having to record the entire clip once again.

    Check out how to edit your recordings.

If you are a teacher trying to create high quality videos, one of the problems is it is just really hard to say the right thing or to keep talking for five minutes straight without messing it up…The thing that I think makes Explain Everything sort of unique is the ability to just scroll back, hit the little trash can button and delete the last 20 seconds that you have been recording because it’s not very good. 

Higher ed collaboration in creating whiteboard videos for students

Jacob also collaborates with Patrick Jones, owner of the popular educational YouTube channel Patrick JMT publishing math tutorials. It was Jacob’s students who convinced him to apply as a guest poster for Patrick’s channel. 

He posted that he’s looking for somebody who can make some physics videos because he wants to start adding some physics content to his channel and there’s like 500 people who have replied to that saying: “I’ll do it!” So I’m thinking, no chance. My students said I should send him something. 

By this time, Jacob had already posted some short explainer videos to his own YouTube channel. He reached out to Patrick Jones and shared some of his material. He was immediately invited to be a guest contributor to Patrick’s YouTube channel and has since created a number of entry level college physics videos.

I think one of the reasons why I continue to use Explain Everything is because Patrick and other people that watch his videos would say “Wow, this looks really neat. And it’s easy to see. It’s very interactive!” 

Check out some of his videos made for Patrick JMT.

isabelle explain everything

Jacob Bowman was interviewed by Isabelle Procner-Michelin, the Explain Everything Partner Relations Manager. Contact her at isabelle@explaineverything.com if you want to share your story.