Looking glass for online teaching

Case Study:

Leeds University Business School Through the Looking Glass

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Leeds University Business School is a globally recognised business school. It is regularly world ranked by the Financial Times, QS and The Economist, and is one of a small number of schools worldwide to be triple accredited by AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS.

The School is a faculty of the University of Leeds, one of the leading higher education institutions in the UK, ranked in the top 100 universities in the world (QS rankings 2020) and a member of the prestigious Russel Group of research-intensive UK universities.

The Business School’s Enhancement and Innovation team is responsible for working with academics to produce high-quality online learning journeys in the Business School’s flipped modules. Flipped learning is a pedagogical approach where students use their independent study time to complete online learning, before attending face-to-face active learning workshops where they apply what they have learned individually and in groups to work through activities and solve challenging problems.

After having researched the available options, the Business School spoke with Universal AV to discuss what could be achieved.

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When considering how they might further develop their video content to provide students with deeper and more memorable learning experiences, the Enhancement & Innovation Team identified a need for a Lightboard in their small studio space.

Having access to a lightboard would allow for innovative and creative video production, particularly with academics who rely on mathematics and diagrams to teach their subject.

Pushing the boundaries of teaching and design

Universal AV worked with the team as a true AV integrator should to facilitate and design something bespoke to the Business School, collaborating with furniture partner Top Tec Dalen.

Top Tec had helped a University do something similar elsewhere but to a different specification – the Enhancement and Innovation Team sketched their vision, taking into account the size of the writable surface, the mobility of the structure and that it should be height-adjustable, making the resource fully accessible for all lecturers who wished to utilise it in their teaching.

Top Tec worked with those informal sketches to produce detailed drawings of the design and promptly started work on prototypes.

The lightboard

Sean Gledhill, Learning Technologist at Leeds University Business School commented; “The first time I saw the prototype at the Top Tec factory I was so impressed. The attention to detail on fixings and finish was excellent.”

Top Tec used stainless steel as fittings to hold the glass in place. Time was spent on the design using obround fittings providing a softer finish. Compact laminate was used as a worktop which is strong enough to form a major part of the structure. The frame was designed with braked casters.

The structure was shipped to the Business School where filming commenced immediately, allowing the Learning Technologists and academics to assess the suitability of what was produced.

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How the lightboard is used

To use the lightboard an academic is stood behind the lightboard wearing a clip microphone; they read a carefully crafted script displayed on an autocue on the other side of the lightboard, in front of the camera. At appropriate intervals the academic uses neon dry-wipe markers to create annotations between themselves and the camera.

The resulting footage is first cropped so that the edges of the lightboard are not visible, it is then flipped so that the writing is displayed the right way round for the viewer of the video.

Learning Technologist Sean Gledhill commented: “When I edited the first video, I was amazed. What was fantastic was the theatre of it all, the writing looked like it hung in mid-air. It provided exactly the result we were hoping for.”

Reactions from staff and students

Dr Peter Hughes, Director of Teaching Enhancement at the Business School, and one of the first academics to use the lightboard in his large undergraduate economic theory module, spoke of the process of using the lightboard; “A large part of it completely replicates what I do on whiteboards, it is something I have done for years and it meant I could use the kit straight away without having to learn too much more. This meant Sean and I could start production straight away. The positive feedback from students is great.”

Sean Gledhill continued; “Academics that have seen the lightboard have been impressed without even seeing the footage it helps create. Top Tec added touches we really liked, such as a remote control and a holder to ensure it was kept safe, the detail on the frame ensured the lightboard looks high-quality”

The Enhancement and Innovation Team are already using the lightboard in innovative ways – looking at live streaming events and adding animations in post-production to further enhance the already unique videos.

Simon Ferguson, Sales Director, Top Tec Dalen commented; “Working with Universal AV on this project has proved to be very successful for both parties and demonstrated that ideas and concepts can become a reality with careful collaboration to meet budgets, time lines and fit-for-purpose products”

Leeds through the looking glass

““Universal were incredibly helpful in working with us and Dalen in order to ensure we achieved the right result and we believe we certainly did!””

Sean Gledhill

Leeds University Business School
Close up of camera feed on University professor drawing on clear glass whiteboard

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