Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

This content was published: February 27, 2017. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.

Project Learning Glass

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Since this post is a little long I’ll give you the condensed version:

  • ‘Learning Glass’ is our team’s name for the myriad of illuminated transparent whiteboard solutions blooming in instructional technology, especially since we’ve evolved plans initially posted from SDSU
  • ‘Project Learning Glass’ is the name we’ve coined our efforts to create one with student help in our Machine Manufacturing program here at PCC.
  • PCC now has a Learning Glass! Want to produce some of this content for your course? Apply for Spring 17 Video Camp by Monday, March 13th at 8 AM
  • Faculty input on emerging instructional technology helped drive our selection and adoption of Learning Glass- your input from the field directly influences how we support you!

Background of the project

Instructor interest in transparent whiteboards began to bloom here at PCC in spring 2016 just as we were hearing about the technology in distance learning via an Instructional Technology Council (ITC) webinar titled “Learning with Glass” (Spaces- PCC login required.) Initial feedback about transparent whiteboards from the field was positive and media created seems to improve instructor presence online. At the same time, discussions in our distance ed emergent technology workgroup at the state level uncovered interest in transparent whiteboards concurrently growing at Chemeketa. Sage Freeman, Chemeketa’s instructional media specialist and I coordinated a trip to OSU with faculty to explore the pros and cons of a retail off the shelf solution they are already using in their studio. OSU’s Nick Yee and team graciously hosted our crew in their studio for a morning of intensive exploration. We discover that OSU’s off the shelf version cost approximately 8K, well above what we’ve got to explore with.

Armed with information, hope, and the creativity induced by restrictive budgets, we return to our respective institutions and move forward…


DL technology manager Andy Freed used the plans from SDSU and a little additional guidance from lightboard.info to improve our version based on feedback from our trip to OSU. He was stalwart in his following up with leads to get us connected with the Machine Manufacturing folks, a budget for ingredients, and a student who could create our mounting brackets to specification. Once bracket mount construction was concluded, we moved forward into assembling the board and conducting tests. Although we haven’t yet had our pioneer Bryan Hull back to try the PCC version yet- He’s our faculty who used the gear down at OSU and would be able to give the best comparative feedback once he returns in the spring.


  • Instructors can face the camera when they are presenting, allowing for natural body gestures and eye contact which improves instructor presence
  • Less post-production is needed, and instructors can be coached to pause whenever an error is made making ‘clean up work’ simple and quick
  • Getting our hands and gesturing involved in communication may be beneficial to guiding focus and learning
  • Students are also responding positively, reporting that being able to see their instructor and lecture content concurrently is “pretty cool”

Current status

We are now recording initial content with faculty, you can see our earliest work starting to bloom here on PCC’s Video Production Unit Playlist on YouTube – look for BA 211. Next term, Video Camp will focus on productions that will use learning glass so that we have the opportunity to build a body of work to help us all learn how to best utilize and support this technology.

Cost savings

While a commercial off the shelf solution cost OSU over 8k, PCC’s DIY solution cost approximately one-fourth. A DIY solution was possible for us at PCC because we have a large institution full of resources like the MakerSpace and budget that supports values dedicated to continuous improvement of course development and delivery.

Student participation= win

We’re always happy to find opportunities for our students to apply their skills to help our community solve problems and raise self-sufficiency. We create career collateral for our students from the participation products that emerge from these partnerships. A win/win was found in our Machine Manufacturing shop, where both equipment and abilities were available to help us machine our mounts. We now understand the process and can replicate it to improve access to this technology at a cost that makes more sense to our community college budgets.

Faculty excitement, yay!

We love to support faculty innovation, so we strive to match toolkit candidates with emergent technologies which are turning our faculty on. We explore a wide set of technology tools to instructional problems and then diligently select appropriate solutions to evolve forward in concert with faculty instructional plans and institutional goals. We were lucky in this case that Bryan Hull stepped up to inquire about Learning Glass in synchronicity to when our team had just participated in a similarly themed webinar. As faculty who use these tools ‘where the rubber meets the road, you can help us improve our luck by connecting with us to let us know which emerging instructional technologies catch your interest as they do.

About Monica Marlo

Multimedia Ed-Tech one up for PCC faculty. Immedgineer- Immersive Education Engineer. Multi-disciplinary, a blended use of analog and digital interactive storytelling tools to immerse a learner toward measurable objectives. (eg: 3D virtual ... more »