Assistant Professor Colleen Manchester is experimenting with a technique that teaches students before class.

Assistant Professor Colleen Manchester is experimenting with a technique that teaches students before class.

As an alternative to sitting through lecture during class and doing homework after, students watch lectures on a video before class and are able to ask their questions during. The technique known as "flipping the classroom" aims to decrease lecture and increase interactive work, says Assistant Professor Colleen Manchester.

She hopes it will create higher level problem solving. 

Manchester, who teaches in the Department of Work and Organizations at the Carlson School of Management, uses Smart Board technology that allows her to show Powerpoint slides, write on them and record a voice-over. Each session is about ten minutes long and at the end students take a comprehension quiz so Manchester knows what to focus on when she teaches the lesson in person.

"It ["flipping the classroom" technique] makes sure everyone has the same fundamental concepts before lecture," she says.

Students think reducing the amount of lecture time is the best way to keep them interested in the material.

"Reducing lecture is always good. People just don't learn that way in 2012, with the flood of info available to you. You'll get bored too easily," says student Ted Bauer, who is getting his Masters in Human Resources and Industrial Relations (HRIR).

For HRIR masters student Rebecca Bergner, watching the videos before class allows for more group work during class instead of outside of it.

"I love how we get a quick refresher of the material in class, but spend most of the time working with our peers and the professor through realistic HR scenarios that I experience on the job," she says.

Students appreciate that they can go at their own pace while watching the video. They can pause or watch any section they don't quite understand the first time, Bergner says.

There were a few minor technical problems when setting up the system but Manchester received help from Amie Norden, who assists Carlson School faculty, PhD students and staff with technology issues.  "A main challenge was to find a solution minimizing technology issues as well as providing high quality pedagogical result," Norden said.  "A specific challenge was coordinating the Smart Board technology with the available screen-recording technology."

Manchester believes "flipping the classroom" will be a success because she is teaching to the "YouTube era" of students.  "I would recommend other universities and professors use this technology because it is the way education is moving," she said.

Manchester got the idea from her aunt who was using this version of teaching with her high school calculus class.

She is currently the only instructor at the Carlson School using this technique.