Do teaching modalities matter when it comes to student outcomes? Dr. Matt Anderson says yes. He’s making his physics courses more effective with the Learning Glass, an innovative instructional technology that allows faculty to teach complex STEM problems on a see-through glass whiteboard. He’s done a side-by-side study comparing the efficacy of the Learning Glass vs. a document camera.

His recent webinar, Better Student Outcomes with the Learning Glass Project, generated a lot of interesting questions. Dr. Anderson took the time to answer them in this post. Read on for his humor-filled take on the Learning Glass, including accessibility, Mediasite Catch, lighting questions and more.

When putting these videos online, how do you make them accessible?  We often have students here at Drexel University with accessibility needs who take online classes as well as face to face, so this would be an issue for us.

We have been very happy with Mediasite, as it allows the HD videos to be streamed out synchronously, as well as automatically archived.  Students have access to the videos for the full term in an archive, linked through our campus’ learning management system.

Is this also possible with My Mediasite or Mediasite Catch, without the elaborate studio set up?

Yes. The table-top version I was using during our webinar is what I use in the classroom, and this is recorded via Mediasite Catch.

What about your lighting setup?

The lighting setup is rather straightforward. The glass has built-in LEDs for lighting the board itself. The other lights you’ll need are to illuminate the presenter. In the studio we use a four point lighting system: two on the sides of the glass, one above the glass, and one “hairlight” behind the presenter.

At SDSU we have an exciting active Learning Glass classroom that can be found here. The pictures show the lighting design.

Why do you need to connect Learning Glass to a projector?

We use a projector to display the flipped image. But the only reason you need a projector or monitor is if you have a student audience. Obviously, if they are looking straight at the glass, the writing is backwards. The projector shows it flipped. If you have no audience (in that room), you don’t need a projector. You can either record it, or pipe it out online.

Have you had students with a disability attend your classes and has the learning glass has made a difference?

I have had comments from students with dyslexia that they find these recordings very helpful.

During your live sessions do you have an AV person there to help out?  Are you using a video switcher to add in “projections”?

I typically do not use many inserts in my live courses.  For recorded sessions, we have a studio where you can insert images. It is quite possible to set up the studio such that the presenter can flip through the images without assistance.

Is there any residue from the markers that stay on the glass?  Do you have to deep clean the glass once in a while?

Yes, there is residue that builds up after a few lectures.  To remove this, we use a foaming glass cleaner and a squeegee.

Do faculty members of all ages use the learning glass? Or is it something that younger faculty gravitate toward?

I used to call myself “young” faculty, but I don’t think I’m allowed to any more.  Yes, faculty of all ages have adopted Learning Glass.  It solely depends on their personality and willingness to try new things.

Does the device record the instructor’s PowerPoint? If yes, how does it work and does it required an external device, like an USB or hard drive?

Recording with the camera only catches whatever is seen through the lens. But pairing this with Mediasite Catch is ideal because it records two screens, the camera and the slide show.

How do you project graphics on the screen in addition to drawing?

There are two options:

1) Insert with a video switcher. The downside is the instructor cannot see the image directly on the glass, they need to look at a confidence monitor.

2) Another option we’ve developed is a frosted glass attachment. Projecting onto this, the lecturer can see the image directly on the glass, and still annotate it. But if they stand behind this frosted glass, they are obscured.

Would you say both face to face and online classes enjoy this the same? Or do online like it more? Less?

Good question. I would say both online and face to face classes enjoy it immensely. It is something they’ve never seen before, and they really appreciate being able to see the professor’s face. Survey results have been very compelling.

Thanks for participating in the webinar!  And if you have any more questions, feel free to email me or visit our Learning Glass page:


Matt Anderson