Story by Alicia Steele, Contributing writer
In August 2014, Lilian Murray, former Faculty Development Center coordinator, found the idea of the lightboard from Northwestern University. She passed the idea along to Jim Barnett of the Engineering Institute who, with her guidance, was able to physically build not one but two versions of the lightboard for Murray State.
One year later the board is ready to be put to use by the faculty of Murray State and will be unveiled on Thursday, Sept. 24th.
The Faculty Development Center currently holds one of the lightboards, while the Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and technology holds the other.
Justin Patton is “the man behind the lightboard” as current interim Faculty Development Center Coordinator Elizabeth Price put it. Patton was responsible for programming all of the media features into the board.
“Anybody can walk in, treat it like it’s a chalk board, they don’t have to have any special training,” Patton said. “If you’ve used a chalk board, you can use this thing.”
The lightboard is a glass board that professors can stand behind and write on as if they were writing on a normal chalkboard. This board however, allows the professor to maintain eye contact with his or her audience, and allows the class to see the professor’s facial expressions while lecturing.
Though the professors are standing on the opposite side of the board, they do not have to write backwards. Both the writing and the professor are recorded on video, and that camera is able to mirror the image, so the writing is viewed as it normally would be on a chalk board. This video is then able to be posted on Canvas or a teacher’s webpage or YouTube channel.
“The lightboard is just a chalk board that is geared for online teaching,” Patton said.
It is not meant for classroom learning. “The lightboard is a totally studio approach,” Patton said.
If a professor knows they will not be able to hold a lecture and wish to post an online lecture, they are able to visit the Faculty Development Center from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for recording, or by appointment if necessary. It is preferred that a one week notice is given, in order to record and edit the video, but one can be produced fairly quickly in an emergency case scenario.
Tim Schroeder was among the first to experience the lightboard. He knew he had to miss a class, so he recorded the lecture with the lightboard and posted it online for his students to watch.
Schroeder said a good portion of his students did watch the video, but some did not. He began the next class period by asking his students what color marker he used, and most were able to answer it.
“It probably saved me half of a class period,” he said. He said since not all students watched the video, he spent a portion of the next class period reviewing what he had taught in that lecture.
Schroeder said that if necessary he would use the lightboard again, but “nothing can replace being in class seeing students face to face,” he said.