One tool which is often used in the physical learning environment is the interactive whiteboard. One tool which is used probably a lot more in a lot of physical learning environments is the traditional whiteboard. Another tool which is well used in training rooms is flip chart paper, even if a lot of the time it is the paper that is used rather than as a flip chart.
Regardless of your feelings about interactive whiteboard, the concept of a large shared working space that learners can contribute to together for writing and drawing is one that is often used in education. It is also a rather challenging concept to embed into online environments.
The easiest solution is to stop thinking about a digital whiteboard, but think about the activity and the learning outcomes and see if a different tool could meet those particular needs. For example a brainstorming activity on the meanings of different words could be undertaken using the Glossary tool in Moodle. A collaborative exercise could be done in a wiki. Drawing a concept map could be done using mind mapping software.
It’s not to say that it’s impossible to use a whiteboard in an online environment, but you would very likely need to link or embed such a tool into the VLE.
Remote delivery solutions such as Adobe Connect and Blackboard Collaborate have a digital whiteboard built in as one of the features. These online whiteboards can be used by the remote delegates to interact with the each other and the teacher. These sessions can often be recorded and then linked to from the VLE to be played back at a later date.
There are various tablet apps, such as Educreations that can be used as a portable digital whiteboard, the final output is saved to the web and can be linked to or embedded into the VLE.
There are other online tools that can be embedded into the VLE, Padlet (the service formerly known as Wallwisher) is an ideal tool that allow multiple users to post comments to a virtual wall.
The whiteboard is a cornerstone of the traditional classroom, as was the blackboard before that, it is a tool that you don’t often see in VLEs, but that’s not to say it isn’t possible to have an interactive whiteboard, just that sometimes you need to think slightly differently.