A whiteboard is an integral tool for teaching in many disciplines, especially the sciences. The Lightboard allows the key aspects of a whiteboard – the ability to write and draw – to be replicated on video, without the need for extensive post-production editing. See the video below for an example of a recording done by Dr Richard Arnold of the School of Mathematics and Statistics.
“I’ve recorded lecture videos in the past where I’ve spoken to sets of slides – but felt disconnected from the material – as if I was sitting on my hands unable to interact with the content I was presenting. For me, being able to write, grow and annotate a picture on the Lighboard retained those engaging elements of a traditional lecture that were missing from the slides + talk format. And was very easy to do.”
Richard Arnold is the course coordinator for STAT193, one of the largest courses at VUW, with 1400 students each year across all three trimesters. The STAT193 students come from a range of disciplines, with varied abilities and experience with statistics. To accommodate these, Richard and the other STAT193 teaching staff are creating short videos detailing one or two concepts per recording. There are many advantages to these videos, which tend to be more focussed and condensed than traditional lectures. Students can watch them at their own pace, with the ability to stop and rewind to re-watch sections if needed. Videos can be reused across multiple courses and trimesters, and can be scaled out to reach more students than might fit into a lecture theatre, which is already a struggle with STAT193.
Developing concepts by writing and drawing is a fundamental part of how statistics, as well as several other disciplines, is taught. The Lightboard offers a simple, easy way of capturing this teaching style on video. Using a Lightboard is a similar experience to using a whiteboard. The lecturer stands in front of a sheet of clear Perspex and writes as they normally would in a lecture theatre. A video camera on the other side of the Perspex flips the image, which turns the writing around the right way. There isn't a large amount of editing or animating that needs to be done in post-production, which means that videos are quicker and easier to record. The Lightboard enables the lecturer to face the students directly and thus be a prominent part of the recording, which adds their personal presence, helping to foster the connection between the lecturer and the students. The presenter can interact more freely and physically with the content than with other recording techniques such as screen capture recordings.
Richard kindly volunteered to be the first person at Victoria to record a Lightboard video. The first session took just over an hour, during which he was able to record four short videos. One of the videos can be found above.
Commentaries on the pedagogical ideas behind this case study, written by academics from the Centre for Academic Development
Learning Design and Application
Key to the impact of Richard’s videos is the way that they provide a guide to the process of decision-making that an expert undertakes when solving problems. One of the key features of expertise is the ability to recognise elements of a problem that suggest productive strategies for solving it. The use of the front facing view (as opposed to a disembodied voice or hand) helps the audience concentrate on the speaker as if they are talking directly to the student. The handwritten style also encourages the student to write down the example themselves as they follow the video, also promoting better long-term recall of the information.
When creating these videos it is important to reflect on how the student will use them. Typically, students will seek out videos that explain or demonstrate concepts they are struggling with. This means that the videos need to be carefully named, linked in some way to the course structure so they are visible, and also introduced in ways that help the students recognise the focus of the specific video. The focus of the introductory sentences should be on what the video shows and the key concepts and/or skills that are included. Where possible, avoid any reference to a specific course or to other videos as this makes the resulting video harder to reuse in different contexts.
During the video itself, the important focus should be on the decision-making process guiding the problem solving being shown. Disciplinary tools should be clearly identified (such as formulae, analytical techniques, theories etc.) and the reason for their selection mentioned in addition to demonstrating how they are used to address the problem at hand. If the problem presents itself in a variety of different ways, all amenable to a common analysis technique, then consider creating a set of videos demonstrating these.
Concept or example videos should be short, no more than 3-7 minutes at most. It is generally more useful to create several variations on a video addressing different, but related, problems using the same techniques, than to create a single video with those variations discussed in it. Asides, or tangential examples, should be avoided as they complicate the video.
When creating the video, remember that the student can play it slowly or pause as needed so speak and present at a comfortable speed rather than pausing as you would normally do during a lecture.
Videos should also have a clear conclusion, with key points summarised if necessary. It is possible to add additional content while editing these videos, such as diagrams, lists of references or pointers to where other examples can be found.
Richard Arnold’s case study shows that technology innovation can take place on top of traditional tried-and-true teaching approaches, such as demonstrating or modelling a step-by-step procedure that students can later replicate and apply in new situations. This teaching approach is referred to as “worked examples” or “completion examples” (Sweller, Clark, & Kirschner, 2010). This approach is particularly useful when teaching novices (rather than students who are more experienced in the field). This is because novices often find it very difficult to apply the knowledge they have only recently acquired. This is why a requirement to independently apply recently learned skills may result in cognitive overload for first-year students, and would negatively affect learning (Hattie & Yates, 2014).
So, Richard Arnold’s innovation is in how teaching is delivered. By creating short videos focused on how to go about completing a specific statistical task or procedure Richard creates learning objects (“digital resources that can be reused to support learning”) available on-demand to students, tutors or academics. These resources allow students, who find specific topics more difficult, to review them multiple times; e.g. when the topic is first introduced, when students need to apply this knowledge to complete course tasks and assignments, and when they are preparing for their end-of-course exams.
The advantage of the Lightboard recordings is that the tool is specifically designed to record a teacher writing on the board; this means that the affordances of the tool are a perfect match to the mechanics of this specific teaching activity of walking students through worked examples, in real time. It is this alignment between the teaching approach and the chosen technology that makes Richard Arnold’s case so effective.
Hattie, J. A. C., & Yates, G. (2014). Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn. Routledge: Oxon, UK.
Sweller, J., Clark, R. E., & Kirschner, P. A. (2010). Mathematical ability relies on knowledge, too. American Educator, 34(4), 34-35.
Reproduce this in Your Own Teaching
This is a quick-start guide for using a Lightboard in your own teaching. If you would like additional support, contact one of our learning and teaching team
Consider the content of the videos you would like to produce.
Plan out a rough script for what you want to talk and write about
Contact one of our learning and teaching team to book a recording time.
Record your video
Contact one of our learning and teaching team to discuss these ideas further and for support using the technologies.