Accounting Professor “Flips” His Classroom with Technology

By Donna Greenwald

Today’s lecturing environment is no longer a blackboard, lectern, and a teacher standing at the front of a classroom with PowerPoints. It is a video camera on a tripod, a green screen, and bright photography lights because faculty are capturing their lectures through video and posting the recordings online for students to watch as homework. 

The traditional classroom is being “flipped” and faculty in the College of Business are some of the early adopters of this innovative, high-tech way of teaching.  With the lectures being reviewed outside of class, students come prepared to the classroom and spend their time interactively discussing the concepts learned and practicing exercises in a collaborative environment.

Dr. Pascal Bizarro is an associate professor of accounting and he is one of the leaders in the College of Business who has adopted the flipped classroom approach.  Last spring, he was presented the prestigious College of Business Leadership Council award for Using Technology to Improve Learning Outcomes as a result of his innovative teaching efforts.

Dr. Bizarro uses technology to assist students with mastering content, refreshing previously learned content, and simulating real-world situations and decision-making opportunities. He became interested in adopting the flipped classroom teaching style when he represented BGSU four years ago at a Technology in Business School Roundtable at the College of William and Mary. “I learned about different software to capture lectures. I took the initiative to personally purchase Camtasia Studio by Techsmith to record in my office what I would spend time doing in the classroom freeing up the face-to-face time for active learning activities.” This software ultimately was adopted by BGSU as the lecture capture solution. 

Dr. Bizarro describes what he does in his accounting courses. “My students spend time before class viewing my lecture at home and then preparing exercises that we cover in class. I also researched ways to wirelessly project my tablet-pc on the classroom screen. It allows me to ask any student in the classroom to work on the spot on the assigned homework. It keeps them sharp, not knowing which student I will pick. I also created videos, going over step by step on how to get to the correct answer, so the student can go back and relearn the material.”

To make sure students are viewing the lecture videos and working on homework problems prior to class, Dr. Bizarro embeds quiz questions inside the videos. ”I receive daily (every time that a new submission happens) a report telling me if the student actually watched the video without going straight to the quiz questions.”

Dr. Bizarro is dedicated to optimizing the use of Camtasia, so he attended two days of training in Chicago. “I learned new ways to create attractive and exciting lecture videos using hidden functionalities such as chroma key background (green screen) and hotspots inside the videos to make them more interactive. For example, I can insert myself into the PowerPoint presentation so the student can have a personal touch while viewing the lecture video. Another example would be to include a ‘force stop’ and ‘click to continue’ button so the student can reflect on the material or complete an exercise before continuing the presentation.” 

Dr. Bizarro adds, “In my graduate class, I use a free poll system (poll everywhere) to assess how much the students understand the material presented in the lecture videos. This is an activity we do together during class period.”

The associate professor has been involved in College of Business and University committees/taskforces relating to online teaching, use of technology, and learning assessments.  He is currently the chair of the newly created Assurance of Learning committee within the College. Dr. Bizarro advocates implementation of the flipped classroom to his colleagues and was a presenter at the recent innovative teaching summit held at BGSU and hosted by the College of Business called “Demystifying the Flipped Classroom.”

He offers advice to teachers considering this innovative style. “It is important to set up student expectations early and to be well organized so the students know exactly what to do before class and what will be expected of them during the class period. It seems to the student that the class will require a lot more work than a traditional course but that is not the case. It is just that the students are now accountable for the work they are supposed to do, so they can come prepared for class.” 

Dr. Bizarro notes that it does take a lot of upfront prep work for the teacher to flip a classroom, but he “likes the challenge to figure out new assignments to complete during class to improve student participation. This method helps me to cover exactly what I plan to accomplish in class and even more.”