Abstract . The MOOCs , and online material design in general , stimulate the search for appropriate technologies . We can see this happening in the special glass board “ Lightboard ” of the Department of Mathematics , built and implemented following an initial open source project by Prof . M . Peshkin of Northwestern University , with the intervention of Frank Cadillac , a famous Italian builder of great and small illusions .
Keywords : Lightboard , MOOC , post-production
“ I guess your lightboard is going to revolutionize the elearning business !” - Beate Brede , Head of Talent Recruiting Management , Fraunhofer IFAM , Bremen , Germany .
Excerpts from videos by the authors made with the Lightboard BoardOnAir™
1 . Looking for an effective video system
Since 2015 the so called MOOCs ( Massive Open Online Courses ) have become exceptional tools for the dissemination of mathematics . The MOOCs are free online courses , consisting of sequences of short videos , texts and quizzes . However , whoever is in charge of their realization , is aware of the difficulty of producing an effective video .
Mathematics is typically explained on a board . Instead , the procedure to produce a MOOC video involves a presentation in Power Point by the presenter who explains with the aid of his gestures and is shot by a camera in a multimedia centre equipped with Chromakey ( green background ). Afterwards , a technician needs to edit the video so that the presentation will appear behind the presenter . Various other steps , by the authors themselves to the technicians , will produce an optimal synchronization between images and speech .
In order to maintain the naturalness of handwriting the only option available is to write on a tablet PC and video-record the desktop . However , the absence of a real person ( or simply their icon from the webcam ) apparently is not very effective and , according to some studies on MOOCs , can even be counterproductive .
2 . From Lightboard to BoardOnAir™
In 2015 we became aware of a Lightboard produced by physicist M . Peshkin of Northwestern University ( USA ). This tool allowed to make videos in which one is able to see the presenter frontally , while he writes and draws images to which he can add comments live in a vacuum , using phosphorescent markers , and without any need for post-production work .
This board is a special glass blackboard , illuminated from the inside and accompanied by auxiliary instruments that allow both to reverse the image in order to make the presenter ’ s writings appear in the correct orientation , and to assemble the signal coming from the Power Point presentation of a PC to the camera image . The presenter just needs to press the button of the digital recorder and start the recording .
It took us two years to figure out how to transport / transfer the project we had seen on the internet - an open source patent – not to mention the difficulty of building a structure with very particular characteristics made of glass and steel navigating through Italian bureaucracy which , for example , obliges the public administration to only purchase products from one specific catalogue : how can one do this if the product still does not exist ?
The Lightboard needs a massive structure , able to safely hold a glass measuring 2.40 m X 1.20 m , surrounded by LEDs and various other apparatuses : a camera , a device able to flip the right-left image , a television mixer , and a digital recorder . The video image is then mixed with the Power Point presentation or computer pdf . We were lucky enough to meet Frank Cadillac , President of the Ring Club 314 of the International Brotherood of Magicians and builder - the only one in Northern Italy - of great