WASHINGTON COLLEGE 300 Washington Ave Chestertown, MD 21620 IDEAWORKS Innovation Suite Library and Academic Technology Miller Library, Lower Level

[ Portfolio | BrightBoard ]

The move to teaching online can be a lot of work.  Faculty are already challenged with adapting their curriculum even before adding potential technology struggles.  BrightBoard lets faculty continue to present using a teaching tool they’ve been using their whole lives – their natural handwriting.

Rather than compromising in this new online format, BrightBoard upgrades their existing methods, now letting them instruct without ever needing to turn their backs on the classroom to write on the dry erase board.  This has the benefit of allowing them to better engage the audience while never blocking the classroom’s view with the instructors own body.  Remote teaching or not, BrightBoard improves written instruction.

     BrightBoard is not meant to directly replace more sophisticated teaching tools like the iPad and Apple Pencil.  It is however a viable alternative in many cases.  There are numerous iPad apps that integrate wonderfully with an online classroom.  We recognize this, and celebrate all that such technology can do, but it is significant to note that BrightBoard can be utilized for about 1/10th the cost of an iPad.  And while iPads will slow down and become outdated in a few years, the simple technology of a BrightBoard makes it usable for years to come.

     Admittedly, IDEAWORKS didn’t invent the light board concept.  There are manufacturers who make larger studio kits and smaller desktop units as well.  By designing, prototyping, and building in the IDEAWORKS Makerspace, even a short production run of BrightBoards is less than 10% the cost of even the least expensive desktop models commercially available. 


     But we raised the bar with greater configurability.  BrightBoard can be used with a typical laptop, an external monitor with webcam, or even using your smartphone tethered to your laptop.  You can also adjust the lighting output of the glass illumination independently of the rim lighting.  This lets you tune the look to show more of you and your expression, or dim yourself out and just let your writing stand out with your shadowed silhouette.


     BrightBoard works best in a dark room, but it can also be used in a lit room.  A built-in shade structure prevents unwanted light from entering the image.

     No post-production is required to produce your instructional videos.  We use an app to flip the camera source so the real-time video source looks natural to you and your audience.  Of course you always have the option to bring your video files into your video editing software to edit your video instruction for a more polished and concise online presentation.

     High end studio light boards are wonderful tools.  They provide a massive amount of writing real-estate for complex or lengthy instruction.  Unfortunately this comes at a cost – literally and figuratively.  Larger studio models cost as much as a family sedan and occupy a significant amount of dedicated studio space.  To use a shared resource like this, faculty need to reserve the studio in advance.  There is no option during a lecture or online office hours to jump over to the light board to better explain a concept.  During our current Covid-19 pandemic, there is a health risk associated with using a shared resource like a video studio.


     BrightBoard’s low cost and small size means faculty can have their own dedicated unit in their own home office.  Multiple instructors can be using their own BrightBoards simultaneously.  And with it easily on-hand, faculty can jump over to their BrightBoard during office hours with only a moment to fire up the software and change camera source of their video conferencing application.

The IDEAWORKS Innovation Suite is a part of Library and Academic Technology at Washington College.