Looking through the learning glass

Light boards provide a digital platform for traditional chalk and talk, with a little more flair and wonder. Could this be the tool that unites the traditionalists and progressives in education?

By Alex More

Last year, I was searching for a way to make high quality instructional videos, fast. Those who follow the blog will know I am a fan of flipped learning and have adopted this progressive pedagogy as a way to engage learners. I stumbled up a ‘digital light board’ or ‘learning glass’ as it is sometimes known. Coincidently, we needed a new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) project, and the concept seemed perfect so I built one.

Since installing the light board teachers and students have been making flipped videos, posting them on Youtube and the STEM project based on the concept has reached the national finals. In short, every school needs one!

What is a light board?

A light board is a sheet of glass (1200 x 800) 8mm thick. The glass is set in a wooden/metal frame lit by LED strip lights. The light penetrates the glass so the presenter/subject can write on the glass. A camera (best) or webcam is set up to film the glass then the writing is flipped post-production so the whole thing looks like this:

The background is blacked out. If you are interested in building one, check out check out Stephen Griffiths, he helped us and has some great videos on his channel https://flippedlearning.org/how_to/light-board-lighting-camera-setting-tips-video/

Building one is fun but it’s hard work. You need to source the glass, low-iron museum style glass is best. Construct a frame from wood, use a router to cut slots to slide glass into. Purchase some LED strip lights, some headlights. Then, you have to put it all together, find a room that’s quiet and locked away, grab a camera and get filming. The edit comes post-filming and can take time to master also.

Benefits of a light board on location

Below are some of the benefits we have found since installing the board.

  • Personalised YouTube content. Teachers don’t have to search for videos that are only partly relevant, they can create their own.
  • Quick, easy filming. The STEM group which comprises of six students now prepare the board, film the video and edit it, easy. As a teacher, you can rock up and shoot 3 x 3 minutes videos within 15 minutes. Perfect for busy people!
  • Engaging knowledge organisers. Since starting Mr More PE, we have made 20 videos. Each video is uploaded to YouTube and students watch videos ahead of the lesson, take notes and then are questioned/tested on the content
  • Students can pause, rewind and watch the lesson again and again. If a student misses a lesson or doesn’t quite understand a concept, they can watch the video as many times as needs be, a 24/7 teacher.
  • Makes for an interesting STEM project. We trained our students and they were instrumental in problem-solving along the way. We had problems with cleaning the glass, sound, types of pens, camera types and editing. They have solved all of the above and made it to the national STEM finals too, impressive!
  • It saves money. The light board cost £450 in total to make, this cost includes all the lighting and we had the camera already. Once you have this set-up you don’t need to subscribe to TED-ED, FlipGrid, GCSE-Pod or other pay-for-use subscriptions.
  • The light board is great for maths, science, history and most subjects. The light board allows teachers to think out loud, introduce new concepts and scaffold learning. Students receive a lesson similar to what they would experience in school.
  • It’s futuristic. Students love trying to workout how the light board works as a concept. Most want to know how you can write backwards.
  • Students love YouTube. Whether you buy into the digital natives vs immigrants debate or not, the generation we teach love YouTube. Don’t be surprised if students want to create Merch (merchandise), it makes for a great Art or Design project. Build your subscribers and help students learn in the process.
Create a channel, build subscribers and post content. Students will engage

If you would like tips on how to build or install a light board in your school setting, get in touch educationalhipsters@gmail.com

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