Lightboards -- for presenting and narrating formulas and other graphical concepts

We've probably all seen movies where a military strategist draws battle plans on a pane of glass using a colored marker, and the plans appear to "mysteriously float in the air" - maybe stationed on a submarine or some bunker in Norad or the hills of West Virginia. Or more simply this technology has been used to display menus in cafe windows or the like. Thanks to an innovative educator willing to share his ideas with the rest of the world, we can use this cool visual effect as an effective use of instructional technology.

Picture of Michael Peshkin's Open Source Lightboard

Since Michael Peshkin, a faculty member at Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois, published an open source guide to making a lightboard, numerous derivatives have been developed at several universities. According to Peshkin:

"The lightboard is a glass chalkboard pumped full of light. It's for recording video lecture topics. You face toward your viewers, and your writing glows in front of you. "

On the opposite side of the glass from the presenter, a camera captures the image for either live broadcast or editing and preparation for online presentation. Of course, the image is flipped so that viewers see the writing "normally" and don't usually mind seeing a right-handed professor appear to write left-handed (or visa versa for those unique artsy types). The presenter, or instructor in many cases, merely writes his/her formula or graphics on the glass and narrates the process so that viewers can observe. The difference in this technique and a traditional chalkboard, whiteboard, or "so called" smart board is that, in this case, the presenter looks at the camera, in effect allowing the presenter to make "eye contact" with the viewer.

Faculty teaching concepts that require charting, graphing, complex formulas, or any illustrations, along with narration, seem to gravitate toward the lighboard. See the list below for resources and examples of other institutions using lightboards for more information.

We are currently eliciting faculty to determine interest and likely use in such technology here at Appalachian State. If you have interest, please let us know by emailing comments to

Additional information resources:

picture of the University of Kentucky Lightboard
Published: Sep 9, 2016 12:45pm