We love bright ideas!

We love it even more when someone else has one and lets us use it.

Often times you want to make a video to illustrate a point. Ideally it would feel like a discussion. You’re facing the viewer and explaining something to them. You’re not facing a chalkboard or a whiteboard and turning your back to them. It feels natural.

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Let’s state right off the bat that this is not our idea. It’s called the light board and it came from Michael Peshkin at Northwestern University. The Lightboard Home Page is really incredible and gives you all the details you need to make your own copy. Parts list with numbers and links, diagrams, technical details, etc. It’s open source hardware so he encourages you to make your own, experiment, etc. Just share what you’ve done.

We’re kind of space constrained and there’s very little available space on campus. While we think this is a great idea, we’re going to need to be able to show people how this works in order to get the funding and square footage required to make it a reality. Instead of making a 4×8 board, we made one that was 3×4. Still big enough to be useful but small enough we can find a place to demonstrate it. It’s also cheaper than a full size unit.

Ordering the glass is pretty easy due to the well detailed specifications. To build the frame we worked out a design and ordered a bunch of 80/20 aluminum. Assembly took a couple hours.

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The box actually said it was an erector set for adults.

We were too excited to worry about the crappy lighting!

We were too excited to worry about the lousy lighting!

There are LED lights underneath the edge of the glass that cause the text to really pop out of the glass. Since it was a 16 foot roll, I had about 12 feet extra. Part of the challenge in this project is to illuminate the presenter and not add glare. I took the extra 12 feet and stuck it on the glass.

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I’d say it does a great job of illuminating the instructor.

I also took a few accent lights we had laying around and used them as a key light.

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Obviously we need to work on the ambient light…

Not bad for a beta test!

Not bad for a beta test!

Overall, we’re thrilled with the effect. It’s really much more pronounced than it appears here. We still have a lot of tweaking and testing to do but I think we’ve established the feasibility of the system.

Now we start showing this thing off and we’ll see if we can get a 12×15 room to really do this right!

Thanks to the following people:

  • Michael Peshkin at Northwestern University. Obviously!
  • Our colleague David Seidl for bringing it to our attention. He’s really interested in that whole maker-space culture thing. Apparently he saw it as a post on Hack A Day.
  • Tim Cichos in Notre Dame Learning Spaces who helped us engineer the frame.
This entry was posted in Research, Testing and tagged , , by Charles Barbour. Bookmark the permalink.

About Charles Barbour

Charles Barbour is an Educational Technologist in the Academic Technologies within the Office of Information Technology. Charles investigates, evaluates, and explores new instructional technologies. He also works with faculty to choose appropriate tools and products to help them achieve their teaching goals. Most recently he has been deploying a lecture capture system and creating spaces and systems that allow faculty and students to easily create digital video content. These include a limited deployment of Echo360, a Lightboard for the College of Science and a One Button Studio for the Hesburgh Library. Contact: cbarbour@nd.edu / 574-631-2386

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