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Lightboard Studio

About this studio

This is a dedicated studio for producing instructional video microlectures using a Lightboard. The Lightboard was invented by Prof. Michael Peshkin at Northwestern University: we modified his design to build one at Illinois. The primary purpose of this studio is to enable teachers who are comfortable with chalkboard instruction to produce videos as similar to their preferred mode of teaching as possible, with as short of a turnaround time as possible. The studio is staffed by student workers trained on its best practices, video editing, and CITL-ATLAS Instructional Media Resources publication methods.

Can I see it in action?

Sure you can:

What is a Lightboard?

A Lightboard is a sheet of tempered �StarPhire� glass, custom produced for the highest level of clarity as possible, edge-lit with LEDs, and mounted on a sturdy frame. When the glass is written on using a fluorescent marker, the ink will glow because of the edge lighting and be plainly visible. A camera on the other side of the glass records the video while reversing the frames to make the text readable. The effect of this is that, from the teacher�s point of view, they�re writing on a surface analogous to a chalkboard while facing a camera; from the student�s point of view, the teacher is making eye contact while writing in midair.

What tips do we have for effectively using the Lightboard for teaching?

  • The Lightboard�s writing surface has a smaller working area than the typical classroom�s available chalkboard space: this means that the use of the space for writing text should be strategically conserved
  • Cleaning the Lightboard takes some time and requires an edit to the video: if a complete topic can be covered with one board�s worth of text, minimal editing is required after the recording is done
  • The text appears most vividly over dark backgrounds, so dressing in dark colors and avoiding writing at face height (or keeping your head to the side of the text) will allow for the most legible writing
  • Since the video frames are reversed, text on your clothes will also appear backwards: do not wear clothing with writing on it to Lightboard sessions, or the magic will be given away in a most distracting manner
  • Prepared visual aids (powerpoints or other videos) can be superimposed at varying opacities over the camera video, although annotating them accurately involves a learning curve that is not portable to other domains

What should I expect from a session in the Lightboard Studio?

The worker in the studio will help you set up any projected presentation aids you wish to use and prepare overlay graphics based on the names of your microlectures. The Lightboard is partially enclosed in a blackout tent to eliminate reflections on the camera side of the glass. A proxy student near the camera is available to make eye contact with (a stuffed Beaver doll). The real student worker will be on the other side of the blackout drape running the recording equipment.

Where do I sign up?

Take a look at the CITL Lightboard Studio Calendar, then send an email to CITL-Lightboard@illinois.edu requesting a free time.

The studio is physically located at the SE corner of the main Quadrangle in the basement of the Foreign Language Building in the G89 Suite behind the elevators. Find one of the two doors leading into the suite (one in the North corridor and one in the South) and ring the doorbell.

What if this wouldn't suit my teaching style?

Sure, we've got a fancy new hammer, but not every topic to be taught is a nail. If you need a more traditional video studio but you aren't working with the team in CITL-ATLAS IMR's full production studio, take a look at the Video Production Studio in the Library's Media Commons for another option for assistance with producing high quality instructional video.

CITL-ATLAS Instructional Media Resources is a campus-level partnership between the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.