Lightboard Studio

The Lightboard allows an instructor to create video lectures and directly interact with handwritten notes and diagrams while facing the camera. Northwestern McCormick School of Engineering (MSE) Professor Michael Peshkin developed the Lightboard to address his need to create visually stimulating videos for his students and to fulfill his long-term teaching agenda: to swear off giving traditional lectures and use class time for more valuable interactions. With the Lightboard, Peshkin continues to push the boundaries of teaching innovation and student in-class expectations. 

The Lightboard is a pane of glass suspended in a metal frame with embedded LED lights that provide dramatic illumination of hand drawn information. The diagrams and notes seemingly float in the air in front of the instructor. Carefully calibrated preset lighting and camera equipment in the Lightboard studio complete the self-serve video production set-up by providing a mechanism whereby teachers and students can use the studio to create interesting, high-quality videos.

The Lightboard

“I created the Lightboard so that I can get these small video lectures to my students as they need them without a lot of production overhead, but also, with training, allow any faculty member or student to produce their own,” says Professor Peshkin. “I needed to be able to prepare these video lectures first of all efficiently in my time, and secondly with a decent quality so the students could see me looking at them, they could see my hands, they could clearly read what I’m writing.”

Lightboard use has gone beyond McCormick to many other Northwestern schools and departments, as well as outside the university. Two years ago, Peshkin made the Lightboard technology available online as an open-source technology initiative. Since then, more than 30 institutions around the world have picked up on this Northwestern innovation and implemented it on their campuses. In many cases the Lightboard has been used to augment existing one button studios and high production value video facilities.

Faculty from across Northwestern have been using the Lightboard studio for a range of purposes, demonstrating the dynamic nature of the technology across disciplines. It’s not just a tool for teaching the sciences. Videos created in the studio by faculty in Russian language and psychology as well as engineering have been used for flipped and hybrid courses, specialized MOOC videos, distance learning courses, and to create short pieces to answer student questions.

Students have used the facility to create videos for a variety of purposes, primarily for course assignments and presentations. It has also been used for the promotion of philanthropic activities and for submissions to design competition.

“It’s open source. There’s a lot of innovation going on around Lightboard and Lightboard teaching and I think that’s a good thing,” says Professor Peshkin, “I’d like to see it become a more common part of video production and higher education in general.”

Use of the Lightboard technology for innovation in pedagogy and best practices as well as a range of other creative uses continues to drive new and exciting videos inside and outside of the traditional classroom environment. To learn more about the Lightboard studio, including use cases, designs and equipment, and a range of other on line resources consult

Want to use the Lightboard? See the Lightboard page on our Resource Hub.