Online Course-in-a-Box

Table of Contents 
Recording Lectures
Lightboard: Your Whiteboard for Video

The Lightboard Studio is a dedicated studio for producing instructional video micro-lectures. The Lightboard was invented by Prof. Michael Peshkin at Northwestern University – we modified his design to build one at Illinois. A Lightboard is a sheet of tempered “StarPhire” glass, custom produced for the highest level of clarity 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 and become plainly visible. A camera on the other side of the glass records the video while reversing the frames to make the text readable. As a result, from the teacher’s point of view, she's writing on a surface analogous to a chalkboard while facing a camera. From the student’s point of view, the teacher makes eye contact while writing in midair.

The primary purpose of the Lightboard Studio is to enable instructors who are comfortable with chalkboard instruction to produce videos with a similar style, with as short of a turnaround time as possible. The studio is staffed by student workers who can help instructors set up any projected presentation aids they wish to use, and prepare overlay graphics based on the names of micro-lectures. 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.

When finished recording, instructors can take their raw footage with them, or our student workers can add it to the Instructional Media Resources media server so that it can published within a learning management system. 

Best Practices

  • Write strategically. The Lightboard’s writing surface has a smaller working area to the typical classroom’s available chalkboard space. This means that 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.
  • Dress in dark colors. Lightboard text appears most vividly over dark backgrounds, so dressing in dark colors will allow for the most legible writing.
  • Do not wear clothing that has writing on it. Since the video frames are reversed, text on your clothes will appear backwards, which can be distracting for students.
  • Prepare visual aids ahead of time. Prepared visual aids (PowerPoints or other videos) can be superimposed at varying opacities over the camera video, although some restrictions may apply. If visuals are prepared ahead of time, our staff can determine what will and won't work for the Lightboard. 

Hours, Location & Scheduling

Location: The studio is physically located 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.

Hours: 9am - 5pm, Monday-Friday

Fall 2020 Semester: With limited staffing in the Armory due to COVID-19, we will not be offering self-scheduling. Instead, please email to schedule an initial orientation and subsequent appointments. You’ll need to wear a mask in the studio whenever you’re not presenting on camera, and you’ll need a recent negative COVID test to enter the building. Our staff will do the same and sanitize all touch surfaces before and after each shoot. Due to the size of the space, only 3 people are allowed in during a recording session (including an operator if using someone).