What is a Lightboard?

Lightboard Studio Entrance

The Lightboard is a glass chalkboard that allows someone to face a camera while recording video lectures.  You face toward your viewers, and your writing appears in front of you.  LED lights are  used to enhance the contrast between the glass and the markers causing them to “glow.”  Great Falls College MSU decided to build a Lightboard Studio in April of 2016 after seeing how it could be used to enhance online video lectures.   Please select items from the menu on the left to learn more. 

LIghtboard  Example 1
LIghtboard Example 3


The GFC MSU Light board was designed using inspiration from several sources. 


Northwestern University's Professor Michael Peshkin 

Flathead Valley Community College  Lightboard

University of Florida Lightboard

Design Considerations :

1) Easy to Use

  • Accommodate multiple levels of technical expertise
  • Require minimal technical training to use
  • Combine video and audio processing so user walks out with a ready to go usable product

2) Cost/Space/Maintenance 

  • Maximize quality 
  • Have a low maintenance design (i.e. glass cleaning concerns)
  • Fit into existing space
  • Utilize energy saving LED lights which also reduces heat
  • Prioritize sound quality through microphone selection

Material List and Build

The Material List is available here:  GFC MSU Lightboard Material List

The GFC MSU Lightboard utilizes a 80/20 extruded Aluminum Frame with an added hydraulic lift to facilitate vertical movement of the setup.  Using the 80/20 frame allowed for custom measurements to be used which allowed us to fit the space we were using and the hydraulic lift was added to accommodate height differences of faculty members based on a height range of 5' to 6.5'.   We highly recommend identifying the space for the setup prior to allow for customization of the frame and glass.  Low iron glass was used to maximizes the internal reflection of the  light from LED light strips placed inside the frame which  increased the contrast of the markers on the glass. It also decreased the visibility of smears and smudges on the glass on the video capture. 

The frame was assembled on three side leaving the top frame open. The glass inserted was carefully inserted (it is VERY heavy)  followed by the LED  light strips which were fed down the aluminum frame.  Using the strips allowed for custom lengths and only required a small amount of soldering to attach it to the dimmer switch. The top frame was added stabilizing the setup. 

A Panasonic Lumix GH4 DSLR Camera with 4K video was chosen for the lecture capture because of the video file output.  This camera allows for MP4 recording and does not require a conversion from a proprietary file type allowing for immediate upload of files to a repository or the campus learning management system.    To link Audio and Video  and to simplify syncing a Panasonic Interface was used to allow microphone input directly as well as to provide an audio level display monitor for feedback to ensure audio is connected. 

 A TV screen provides real-time feedback to the user so they can see in real-time what the mirrored image looks like.

Sound quality was a major consideration for our project as the room we are housed in has a fan running continuously and which could not be turned off as it runs part of the college's IT infrastructure.  Finding a quality microphone which would be able to filter out ambient noise was very important.  The room is also housed between a student gathering center and a large lecture hall.  When large events are occurring external sounds are sometimes picked up by the microphone but overall the  Sennheiser Camera Wireless Mic has worked well. 

Lightboard Image


Lightboard Image looking at the board



Take a look at the following examples of how the Faculty at GFC MSU are using the lightboard.

Math:  Alyssa Finch  (You can also view more from the Math Faculty at the Math GFCMSU Youtube channel) 

Chemistry: Dr. Dan Casmier

Microbiology: Dr. Brenda Canine


How Can I use the Lightboard?

If you are a current faculty member at GFC MSU  schedule a time with the eLearning department by phone at 406-771-440 or email them at eLearning@gfcmsu.edu  This orientation generally takes less than 30 minutes to complete.