Undergraduate Management Course Moves to Online Format

Posted: February 29, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Nicole Hitpas

Students enrolled this spring in the School of Management (SOM) course MGMT 301 People and Organizations are able for the first time to “attend” the weekly lectures from the comfort of their homes.

Paige Wolf
Paige Wolf

Previously, the course was taught using a lecture/recitation model involving two large lectures of 250 students each once a week and smaller recitation sections of 35 students, also once a week. Assistant Professor Paige Wolf noticed that attendance in the large lectures was dwindling and wanted to find a more efficient and engaging way to teach her students.

“A combination of advances in technology and the fact that most of our students are from the ‘Net’ generation affords us the ability to explore new learning approaches without as much concern for user acceptability and accessibility as was true just five years ago,” Wolf explains.

That is why Wolf submitted a proposal to SOM to acquire new software that would enable her to deliver her lectures as a vodcast, a collection of video files distributed over the Internet for playback on personal computers.

Instead of having students sit in a large lecture hall once a week for one hour and 15 minutes, students enrolled in Wolf’s course can access her prerecorded, voiced-over PowerPoint videos via the web anytime they want. Questions embedded in the vodcast files check the students’ understanding of the material, and online weekly quizzes ensure students are viewing the vodcasts.

SOM student Tasha Davenport-Karmo says, “With the online lectures being readily available for review at any time, it’s like having access to the instructor at all times – which is a lot better than tape recording in-class lectures in order to review the material. Furthermore, the online lectures are an excellent and valuable resource for studying for exams because they make it possible for the course content to be reiterated visually and verbally.”

“The vast majority of student interaction I have [had] involves…students who literally ‘missed’ what I said during lecture and needed clarification,” Wolf says. “This blended format provides for ‘anytime’ flexibility in learning material as well as opportunities to engage with other students to discuss and practice using concepts taught in the online lectures.”

SOM student Nick Zahra‘s opinion of the new lecture format supports Wolf’s theories.

“I like the online lecture better because it allows me to concentrate more…. During a regular lecture, it is a lot harder to take notes, and with the online lecture, you can always pause or stop to take notes and then continue on,” he says. “It makes students get more organized because you won’t pass the quizzes unless you take notes and listen. I would choose the online lecture [over the traditional lecture format] because it allows me to control my own destiny as well as understanding the material at my own pace.”

Student Ryan Dempsey adds, “With vodcast, I am able to watch the lectures with friends taking the same class and pause to discuss topics one of us may not understand.”

The online lecture approach has other, indirect benefits, SOM administrators point out. For example, the vodcasts reduce the need for a large classroom space and help ease the logistical issues of assigning room space. Because students are required to be on campus only once a week for the recitation, they’ll be driving to campus less often, thereby reducing vehicle emissions, traffic on campus and the need for parking spaces.

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