Real Life Stories
A Lightboard Studio to Record Professional-Looking Educative Videos Simply and Rapidly
Do you know Lightboard studios? They are video recording studios where teachers record themselves through a pane of glass on which they write. An application then inverts the picture so that even if the teacher is writing from their left to their right, the text can be read clearly in the video. As a bonus: a clever lighting system makes the fluorescent ink used look even more impactful.
A video I have produced with Bruno Voisard for the launch of the Lightboard studio of Cégep André-Laurendreau in December of 2019. The video explains what a Lightboard is and how it can be used for teaching.
My discovery of Lightboard studios
I am part of a SALTISE community of practice, a group that supports active pedagogy and techno-pedagogical innovation. The community that I am part of regroups chemistry teachers from colleges and universities in the Montreal area. We meet every other week at Dawson College
Christopher Moraes had built the studio to record video answer keys for some problems that he was giving as homework to his students.
The studio could not be easier to use: it is a One Button Studio. When you arrive, you plug in your USB key. You press a large button and a 5-second countdown starts before the recording begins. When you are done recording, you press the button again. The recorded MP4 file is automatically sent to your USB key, and you are good to go. You can then upload the file as is on YouTube or elsewhere, or edit it beforehand if you feel the need.
The One Button Studio app (for Mac) allows you to produce videos using only one button and is available for free.
Using the studio is so simple that Christopher Moraes has already asked students, in the context of a course, to go to the studio to record the solution to a problem individually and to share their video with their colleagues in order to build a collaborative answer key.
McGill University has offered the members of the community of practice to use the board for free, by reservation. I have done so abundantly, as well as my colleagues from Cégep André-Laurendeau: François Arseneault-Hubert, Bruno Voisard, and Véronique Turcotte.
A regular user of videos
Since 2013, I have used educational videos regularly. Moreover, I have co-written a report on the subject for Profweb [in French]. In my courses, I use the flipped classroom method: my students have to watch videos before the class to become familiar with certain essential theoretical notions and class time is used to make students active. My colleague Bruno Voisard and I have written an article in Pédagogie collégiale [in French] about the efficiency of flipped learning et its effect on the interest of the students.
To implement the flipped classroom in our chemistry courses, my colleagues and I have created 159 videos, which have been watched over 2 million times on my YouTube channel! I recorded a large number of them in front of a whiteboard or blackboard. But, since I learned about Lightboard, I would never go back. With the Lightboard, I can face the camera: the students can see both me and what I am writing very well. It is the best of both worlds!
From the whiteboard to McGill’s Lightboard, to having a Lightboard at our college!
At the cegep where I work, there was no permanent studio to record in front of whiteboards. We had recording equipment, but you had to find a room and install everything (camera, microphone, projector) every time you wanted to record a video.
Going downtown to use McGill’s Lightboard studio took time, but the fact that the studio was always ready to be used made up for it. The equipment was there, the peripherals were calibrated… But we were dreaming of having a Lightboard studio in our cegep! Thanks to a grant from SALTISE, it became a reality!
As the creation of the studio at McGill University had been very artisanal, Christopher Moraes did not have blueprints to share with us. But, he gave us a list of all the material he had purchased for the project. Even then, starting from the material to recreate the final product was no easy task: Cégep André-Laurendeau’s carpenter, Paul Phillipps Sénior, has done a remarkable job of retro-engineering.
The cegep’s audiovisual technician, Ernesto Vargas, has also been greatly involved in the project to put in place all of the audiovisual equipment.
The entire project was coordinated by Vanitha Pillay, the IT Rep of our college. One of the longest steps was to find a room to host our studio. If a similar project interests you for your college, know that the room does not have to be large: an 8-foot-by-10-foot room does the job perfectly.
What to do with a Lightboard?
The Lightboard can be an interesting technology for teachers of all disciplines. A community of practice on the flipped classroom has started at Cégep André-Laurendeau and teachers from all horizons are very enthusiastic at the thought of using the Lightboard.
The biggest advantage of the studio is that it allows you to record educational videos as if you were teaching naturally in front of a group. The fact that the students see their teacher speak to them reinforces the affective aspect of the value they give to the videos.
The lightboard is very versatile because it allows you to write and to draw.
For the Organic Chemistry course, Bruno Voisard uses the Lightboard to schematize molecules [in French], in the same way students learn to do it. Another teacher, François Arseneault-Hubert, recorded a video in which he explains how to count the significant figures in a number [in French].
If you want to try our Lightboard or if you want information to help you recreate one such studio in your college, communicate with Vanitha Pillay, IT Rep for Cégep André-Laurendeau.