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Woman whiteboarding

White-boarding: How tech leaders use it and how to teach your child

What is white-boarding? Is just drawing out ideas on a white board using erasable markers. Simple as that.

Why whiteboard?

Tech innovators use white-boarding for ideation, illustrating complex ideas, flow diagrams or architecture. Its a powerful tool in its simplicity and allows concepts to be fluidly documented and changed on the fly. Someone who is great at white-boarding can draw in their audience with sketches, diagrams and writing. It is a wonderful collaboration method – allowing people to edit and add on to each others work. Different colored markers are often used to help provide emphasis and contrast. We often ask job candidates to white-board to see how they think and how well they communicate.

Some companies have entire walls painted with whiteboard paint to allow for full scale drawing.

How to get your kids white-boarding

As you might imagine white-boarding comes quite naturally to many kids. If you don’t have a white board a chalk board will do. Large or medium size, upright that allows them to draw & write, erase and edit.

1. Give your child a challenge…

Ask them to draw a robot that can help someone learn to swim.

2. Prompt them with questions:

  • How does it work?
  • Who might use it?
  • What is it made of?
  • How does it float?
  • What else can it do?

Encourage them to modify it as new ideas come to light. No need to edit or bring their thinking “back to reality.” Remember this is blue sky thinking at its best. Just let the ideas flow and the diagram gain clarity of detail through labels, arrows, illustrations and more. Erasing, editing, redoing, rethinking, making multiple versions are all part of the fun. Encourage a proliferation of ideas. For this to be most effective see if your child is able to explain verbally as well as through drawing.

3. Now up the ante…

Add an additional “requirement” to your robot. What would it look like if the robot needed to be able to teach more than one person to swim at a time?


  • How would that change the original design?
  • What elements would stay the same?
  • What would they add, remove, edit or change to meet the new challenge?

Now you’ve probably figured out by now that you could modify this activity to create new challenges, new problems to solve and helpful innovations to design. Go ahead, get creative!


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