Students and professionals alike are all sharing one thing in common as we continue to combat COVID-19: learning and working remotely. It’s the new normal and will be the way of the future.
This past March, the global pandemic forced schools, colleges and universities, governments, and businesses to close their doors, leaving teachers, families and business owners to adapt to remote instruction and remote communication.
Yes, it’s all been a real challenge, especially as we are in the second wave with a dramatic increase in COVID-19 numbers, but the true innovators of today are helping to light the path forward, with solutions to meet these global challenges.
The Lightboard revolutionizes remote learning
“The Lightboard is a piece of glass positioned between the camera and the presenter and it allows you to draw in much the same way you would on a blackboard or a whiteboard,” explains Mike Justason during a live demo of the product.
Justason, who is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Engineering at McMaster University, is the brainchild behind bringing this new and innovative technology from the studio into the homes of educators. Five years ago, he was introduced to the concept of a lightboard studio at McMaster, and he became fascinated with its benefits for online learners. With this, he began creating several iterations of home-lightboards and also studied what was available on the market. Fast forward to 2020, and with the global pandemic changing the world, he dusted off his gear to teach online. The rest is history and The Lightboard was born.
What’s interesting is that he is giving his Zoom presentation to the media from his son’s bedroom and you wouldn’t even know it: a dark background and The Lightboard – that’s all you see and in seconds you are immersed into his remote class that he broadcasts through a webcam on a tripod. And thanks to Free Open Source Software that is easy to use and readily accessible, his drawings and words are flipped so the audience can see them front on.
“If I have any kind of course content that really necessitates drawing, that’s no problem. The Lightboard will allow you to draw and effectively deliver the right content to your audience. More importantly, our new technology allows you to maintain eye contact. You can continuously face an audience and it helps to maintain that relationship between the student and the instructor which can be very challenging in online teaching,” he adds.
But wait, this new technology gets better.
The Lightboard also allows instructors to integrate other familiar methods for learning, like PowerPoint, videos, and so much more!
“Over the years, I’ve built up a whole bunch of PowerPoint slides and I can still use those with this new technology,” he says during his Zoom presentation to the media.
As the PowerPoint slides load up on the glass, Justason begins to underline and circle words to better interact with the audience.
“The students really love this,” he says, “because they are engaged, and they are learning. The technology is also perfect for spreadsheets, word documents, PDFs, and videos – just click a button and the content appears together with the presenter in an interactive space.”
The technology is also completely compatible with all online teaching platforms, like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Because online doesn’t have to suck
We all know that remote learning and meetings have been amped up in a big way since the pandemic took its grip on the world, however, students and business audiences are becoming more critical to non-engaging presentations with a mere voice and PowerPoint slides.
Students are spending thousands-and-thousands of dollars on their college and university education, entrepreneurs are spending loads of money on courses, training, and certifications, and parents are now required to help their kids learn, which means that boring presentations are not making the grade.
But The Lightboard is and it is technology that will definitely be a hit on the market.
“Online doesn’t have to suck,” laughs Justason. “I started using a studio lightboard back in 2016. COVID-19 gave me the kick-in-the-butt I needed to get a quality home-version up and running, and we launched in May of 2020 in order to help professors, lecturers, teachers, and business leaders teach more effectively – a direct benefit for students and audiences alike. Those who are using our technology are raving about it too. Everyone loves it as a remote learning tool as it makes everyone feel connected, regardless of their geographic location.”