Distance Learning

San Diego State Physics Prof Uses Transparent Whiteboard To Reach Students

A California university is experimenting with student engagement in a science class using a special writing surface, a studio audience and a streaming media site. Now, the institution is considering adding a second set-up just like it and others in the California State University system may follow.

At the heart of the solution at San Diego State University is the "Learning Glass," a transparent whiteboard concocted by Physics Professor Matt Anderson.

According to an online description, Anderson uses LED side lighting on low-iron shower glass to create a see-through white board. This approach helps make neon dry-erase markers highly visible and allows students attending the class in person and online to see his face as he solves problems on the board. So that the audience can read what he writes from the other side of the glass, Learning Glass uses software and a mirror to flip the text horizontally.

The class, which has enrollment that can exceed 400, is most commonly viewed by students online as a streaming session or in archived form on Anderson's Youtube channel.

But two or three times each semester, each student also attends a live, 20-person small group lecture in a production studio. That live audience, he reported, keeps his lectures spontaneous and interactive. Student Alyssa Velloze agreed: "It's a pretty cool program because it allows you to have that face to face experience with the professor while also being able to look at the board while you're at home [on] your computer," she said in a video interview about the project.

Lecture capture and management is handled through Mediasite from Sonic Foundry.

"Students are the number one benefactors. They're able to review the content via Mediasite in our Blackboard learning management system whenever they need to, especially before large tests or quizzes, and it gives them a chance to go back and review content that they may or may not have understood the first time," said Rich Bakken, coordinator of media production and special events at the university's Instructional Technology Services, in a prepared statement. "We also feel that students who may not have English as their primary language are then able to review the content much easier by using Mediasite."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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