Flipping, Podcasting, and Friendly Competition

Mike Garver, while not particularly tech-savvy, is a lifelong devotee to the teaching profession. He never set out to start a revolution or be a leading voice in the fundamental shift of classroom dynamics. Nevertheless, he is making a huge difference.

Mike's Story

How Mike Garver made his Marketing Research class inspiring for students while preparing them for their careers

The Problem

When Mike started his teaching career at Central Michigan University, he was on fire. His blend of charisma, humor and knowledge made classes engaging and fun. Students wanted to be there, they wanted to participate and take part in Mike’s discussions. But Mike found out that he wasn’t having the impact he had hoped to have.

“Three weeks into my first teaching job, a member from the faculty development center came by to watch one of my lectures,” said Mike. “I could not have asked for a better class. The lecture went great and I had a great conversation with the students. I thought I was going to blow the faculty development guy away. And I did. Kind of.”

Mike was told that, while he had done a great job in the class, his lesson wasn’t pushing students to higher levels of learning. The faculty development team member introduced Mike to the concept of Bloom’s Taxonomy, or the levels of learning that can take place during a lesson.

Leading up to that point, Mike had mainly lectured to students. This approach asked students to memorize facts and gain basic knowledge about the subject at hand, which is on the lower end of Bloom’s learning objectives. However, Mike wanted to be on the higher end—that is, the end at which students were doing what they had learned and critiquing their work themselves.

“That conversation really opened my eyes,” said Mike. “I realized that teaching is not just about lecturing, that it’s not just passing knowledge like we have been doing for so long. At the college level, it’s not just enough to understand the concepts. Students have to be able to do and analyze what they’re learning to be valuable to future employers.”

The Solution

Mike needed to figure out how to give students the content and have them actually do what they were learning about.

“I think of it in terms of baseball,” said Mike. “I can’t tell my players how to hit a ball and then expect them to perform at a high level during a game. They need to practice. They need to do the drills. They need to do the work themselves to fully understand what they’re doing and how to do it.”

So Mike decided to make his course content available to all of his students where ever and whenever they needed it.

Mike started creating podcasts out of his lectures, recording his voice and presentation slides in videos. As he learned more about what students wanted most from lectures, he began refining his process and turning to tools like Camtasia for Mac to make the job easier.

In the classroom, Mike freed up more time for class discussion and critical thinking. His students were given access to all the information they needed to know before each class. This allowed students to come to class prepared to practice what they had learned and critique the work they were doing.

Mike also injected a spirit of friendly competition into his classes. Just as his students would find in their jobs outside of college, he had them work in small teams throughout the semester. In each class, Mike quizzes all of the teams on what they’ve learned from his podcasts. These teams also work together throughout the semester on assignments and the final class project.

The Results

Mike’s classes are considered student favorites on campus. But beyond the excitement students get out of his class, his students are walking away with practical skills they have practiced and used in situations that mimic what they will encounter at their future jobs.

“Every semester, I have students do marketing research or strategy for a real client as a final project,” said Mike. “Prior to flipping my classroom, students just didn’t get it and fell flat at presentation time. Now, students are knocking it out of the park. So much so that a client one semester told me 75 percent of my students presented material better than the consultant he had hired for $30,000 the month before.”

Mike also makes a special point to inspire his students to join him on his flipped classroom journey. He notes that his class would not be possible if he didn’t get students on board with a new approach to their learning. And just as he knew something needed to change in his approach to lecturing, students too recognize the need for something to change in their approach to learning.

Read the complete case study to learn more about Mike Garver’s full transformation.

Download the case study PDF

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I think of it in terms of baseball. I can’t tell my players how to hit a ball and then expect them to perform at a high level during a game. They need to practice. They need to do the drills. They need to do the work themselves to fully understand what they’re doing and how to do it.

- Mike Garver,
Professor, Central Michigan University
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