2016 Award for Innovation in Instructional Technologies

2016: Lightboard Videos for a Flipped Classroom
Katrina Hay, Associate Professor of Physics, and Jenna Stoeber, Instructional Technologies Team Manager, Pacific Lutheran University

Project video

Project Overview

The project consists of the construction of a low-cost and portable lightboard, and the production of 12 videos of introductory physics concepts, allowing Professor Hay to write on a glass screen so both she and her notes are visible. These instructional and visually-engaging videos were posted on the Sakai LMS in order to flip the classroom, allowing students to view the videos at their own pace and come to class ready to ask questions and dig into exercises.


Although lightboard videos are gaining popularity in academic fields in general, combining them with a flipped classroom model allows students to begin digesting complex concepts before class, and arrive ready to engage with the material. Once students arrive in class, they can ask more pointed and useful questions, making better use of classroom time.

The lightboard itself is relatively inexpensive, especially compared to some of the $10,000 studio constructions seen online, which are intended for live-streaming. Unlike using a regular whiteboard in a video, using a lightboard insures that both the professor and the text are visible at all times, which make the videos more engaging and personal while clearly explaining important concepts.

Student Impact

The videos were used in an introductory physics course of 45 students; although conclusive data about the effect on grades is not available, anecdotal response indicates that students found the videos significantly useful for review and note-taking. Response on both teaching evaluations and in-person comments indicate that the videos allowed students to re-watch, slow down, and/or pause the material, allowing them to take notes at their own pace. In addition, several students mentioned they were able to use the videos for test review; one student who watched the videos before the last exam said that they helped her complete a correct written solution for the most challenging problem on that exam.


The lightboard incorporated in the flipped classroom model has a broad range of potential uses. Proven effective at demonstrating complex physics equations and concepts, the lightboard could be used for any instruction that would benefit from a written component. The Instructional Technologies team intends to use the lightboard to produce a series of videos on HTML and CSS, using the boards to write and draw coding concepts. The board could be used to explain diagramming sentences, or explaining grammatical constructs in a foreign language class—anything that would benefit from diagramming or notation.

As an inexpensive version of an otherwise complex construction, the PLU lightboard will be accessible to smaller campuses that want an easy, portable option. Full design specs and cost will be made available once the project is complete.