Lightboard: Helping Students See Key Concepts

When an instructor writes on a classroom’s whiteboard, two problems arise. First, the instructor is facing away from the students; second, the instructor’s body blocks some of the content that’s being written.

These problems can be avoided via a technology called Lightboard. With Lightboard, an instructor stands behind a large rectangle of glass and writes on it with a fluorescent marker while being video-recorded through the glass from the other side. The image is then digitally “flipped” so that the instructor’s writing does not appear to be “backwards” to the viewer.

Remote video URL

Using a Lightboard is quite straightforward, but a few best practices merit mention:


  • Plan and practice your lesson: know what you’re going to be writing or drawing, and where. Will you start at the top of the Lightboard and move down? Will you write on the left side and draw diagrams on the right side? Will you need several colours of markers?
  • Keep the lesson to less than five minutes. It’s better to have short videos that build upon one another than one long video with a lot of content.
  • Wear dark but vivid colours so that you don’t blend into the background (if you wear black, you’ll end up looking like a floating head!). Avoid clothing with bold patterns or text.
  • Choose marker colours that contrast boldly with your clothing.
  • Aim to be authentic rather than perfect. If you misspeak or make a small mistake, it’s fine to just correct yourself and move on – doing so will make you seem more “human” to your students.

During the recording

  • Pause and look at the camera for a few seconds before you start – doing so provides a clean cut for editing purposes.
  • When you are writing, look at what you are writing; when you are not writing, look at the camera.
  • Try not to “write over” your face – if your writing obscures your view of the camera, then it will also obscure the camera’s view of your face.
  • Speak with enthusiasm and expression.
  • If you make a big mistake, or lose your train of thought, just stop, gather your thoughts, and start from the beginning.
  • If you’ve filled the Lightboard and need to erase it, it’s best stop the video, clean the Lightboard (which requires a special spray and some vigorous rubbing), and then recommence.
  • Think about what your closing comment will be: will you reference an upcoming Lightboard video? Will you convey that this is the only video on this topic? Will you suggest that students should read a specific resource and then watch the Lightboard video again?
  • At the end, pause and look at the camera for a few seconds for a clean editing cut, just as you did at the beginning. 

Other notes

  • Ready-made images – such as a complex graph or photo – can be added to the video in post-production so that they seem to appear on the Lightboard itself. 
  • Lightboard videos can be effective in online courses for short (less than 5 minutes) concept explanations, and can help students feel more connected to the instructor.
  • Lightboard videos can also be effective in blended learning courses, where they can be used to introduce concepts that will be taken up in class, or to supplement content that was already covered in class. If they are used consistently, Lightboard videos can help “flip” a course so that course content is delivered outside of class, and class time is spent applying or working with that content.


If you’d like to try using a Lightboard, email staff in the Waterloo Studio or call them at x46784 to book time on a Lightboard.

To discuss effective ways of incorporating Lightboard videos into your course, contact your CTE Liaison (for blended courses) or your CEL Online Learning Consultant (for online courses).


If you would like support applying these tips to your own teaching, CTE staff members are here to help.  View the CTE Support page to find the most relevant staff member to contact.


teaching tips

 This Creative Commons license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon our work non-commercially, as long as they credit us and indicate if changes were made. Use this citation format: Lightboard: Helping Students See Key Concepts. Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo.