Niagara College Professor: The Lightboard is a new tool for a new world

Shauna Gupta, English for Academic Preparation Professor at Niagara College, knows online learning is here to stay, adding “it’s a new world and we need new tools.”

Gupta, a long-time teacher with over two decades of experience, knew teachers had to get creative to hold the attention of students during the switch to online learning. She uses technology from the Lightboard Depot Inc. in classes which has been demonstrated to increase student engagement by a whopping 70%.

“Presentation is so important when you’re teaching online. Students are paying a lot of money; they’re paying thousands and thousands of dollars for high-quality education. And I want to ensure that that they are engaged and getting the solid educational experience that they deserve,” said Gupta.

The Lightboard is a glass pane placed between the instructor and the camera on which they can showcase any digital content. The instructor can write and draw on the Lightboard as they would with a chalkboard in a classroom.

Before discovering the Lightboard Depot Inc., Gupta fashioned her own lightboard with supplies she picked up as the pandemic took hold. She used the lightboard to teach and launch a YouTube channel. Gupta not only found the device effective in a utilitarian sense by capturing engagement, but she also credits the innovation with inspiring students by showing instructors were willing to put in the effort to make online learning work just like them.

“The Lightboard brings a modern, and an innovative, trailblazing cutting- edge feel. And another reason why I like it is because it models entrepreneurial thinking, it models forward-thinking. I don’t have to talk about innovation, I don’t have to talk about anything, I can just use the Lightboard and students are experiencing it. When students see their teachers try new things in the entrepreneurial spirit and display a zest for learning, it also inspires them to think of new and creative ways to live and do different things,” said Gupta.

Unfortunately, the dropout rate among post-secondary students has risen during COVID-19. Gupta has heard former students bemoan learning practices that rely heavily on PowerPoint slides, or asynchronous pre-recorded videos and readings.

“We want the communication and the connection that we had in the classroom. And now when I teach online with Lightboard I feel that communication is so powerful. The way that I’m able to communicate with my students is so powerful. Sometimes I’m like, this is even better than real life,” said Gupta.

Gupta has a passion for ensuring the highest standard of teaching. It is something she holds sacred. And new ways to engage students are always at the top of her mind. Gupta understands teaching must adapt with the times and considers the Lightboard analogous to other outside-the-box thinking on ways to engage.

“Students love it. It’s a new world. Now we are living in a new world. It’s time for new tools. To me, teaching and learning are something sacred. We’re here where we are with this technology with this world we live in because of teaching and learning,” she said.

“And like my dad used to tell me like when he lived in India, that he would go to his classroom and outside and in the sandbox the teacher had a big stick, and they would write the lesson in the sand. And all the kids would be taking notes, and then they would brush them away, and then start again and that’s like the Lightboard,” added Gupta.

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