New Business School Majors Bring New Ways of Learning

'Lecture-capture' format creates a virtual online classroom of live teaching

Richard Gentry leads his GB 370: Entrepreneurship and Management class using the lecture-capture option. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – With more than 3,600 students enrolled in the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration, the challenge of meeting students’ needs provides opportunities to develop additional and creative ways to teach.

This fall, the school launches two new majors for undergraduate students: entrepreneurship and general business. Along with these programs, the school also is introducing a “lecture-capture” option that allows students to complete courses either in a physical classroom or through a virtual classroom using the internet.

“Students today grew up watching content over the internet at the time of their choosing,” said Rich Gentry, associate professor of management. “By building a professional facility to produce lectures, we can give the students what they want and need without sacrificing quality, academic integrity or rigor.

“Sixty-seven percent of students rate the online experience as very good or excellent, and enrollment is increasing in these classes. One student asked me when biology was going to roll out this format.”

The new entrepreneurship program provides students with education and tools to create a business, work with start-ups or to contribute, through innovative efforts, to an existing company.

The general business option provides a solid core curriculum in business and requires students to match that with a minor outside the business school. For instance, a student interested in owning and running an art gallery one day might opt to major in general business and minor in art history.

The lecture-capture option was the brainchild of Gentry and Bob Robinson, chair and professor of management.

“We are excited to offer this program, because it allows us to effectively teach a new generation of students,” said Ken Cyree, UM business dean. “In our surveys, we find our students like our lecture-capture option and online formats.

“This choice allows them to review parts they did not understand. This additional method of delivering classes helps students manage their busy schedules and, in general, provides flexibility that they appreciate.”

Holman Hall North, Room 122, is where Chad Hathcock, a multimedia specialist for the school, films many of the business school’s faculty, including Gentry, David Gligor, Paul Johnson, Jamieson Posey, Bonnie Van Ness and Allyn White.

These professors lecture to roughly 25 students – the live section – in areas of entrepreneurship, finance, management and marketing, all classes that are part of the general business curriculum.

“The level of student satisfaction with the lecture-capture format used for the online sections of these classes has been very impressive but not surprising,” said Del Hawley, the school’s senior associate dean. “We strive to make the quality of the recordings as high as possible, and the students really appreciate it.

“Not having to go to a class at particular times of the day throughout the semester is also very popular, as it frees up students’ time for jobs or other activities, and allows them plan their time more effectively.”

This approach is also a way to utilize some of the school’s best teachers to train a much larger audience.

Professors present a traditional lecture to a classroom of students who ask questions and engage. Then, a larger group – the web section – is able to use this instruction online. Students in the web section sit for examinations four times a semester.

This method of learning is different from online teaching because students are able to watch live interaction between the professor and live section students.

“The lecture-capture format gives the students an enormous amount of flexibility,” said James Flanders, general business program coordinator. “The students can watch the lecture at the time and place of their choosing and are not tied down to a physical classroom.”