Last month’s AACSB ICAM Conference in Edinburgh was particularly memorable for me. I was a first timer at the conference, we launched our Case Focus Journal at a meeting of the MENA Affinity Group, and I attended a meeting of the Online Learning Affinity Group.
I was struck by the quality of the conversations with delegates visiting our stand. Most wanted to talk about the strategic development of business education and the role of the case method and cases within that; particularly in helping schools develop truly localised offerings that imbed them more securely within their host business and social cultures and deliver real impact. Local cases must surely play a prominent part in delivering localisation, and we’re proud that our diverse case collection reflects this.
Members of the MENA Affinity Group took up the theme of localisation again when we launched Case Focus, a peer-reviewed journal for the Middle East and Africa. We began working on the concept a year ago in response to a demand identified by the Affinity Group and it was thrilling to launch the Journal with a call for reviewers and cases.
It was also a privilege to attend a meeting of the Online Affinity Group, and there the discussion around cases was centred on how best to teach cases online. I took part in two round table discussions on the topic – with widely differing approaches.
In the first, many participants felt that the strengths of face-to-face classroom discussion could never be articulated properly online. The gist of the argument was that asynchronous discussion necessarily closes the space in which we find those tacit questions that come up unexpectedly, and provide much of the richness in live discussions in the classroom. For many of these participants, the problem was in how to make the technology fully replicate the classroom experience.
In contrast, the second discussion was dominated by a view that online case teaching results in a better, deeper form of engagement with the case than is normally achieved in the classroom. These participants were perhaps more experienced ‘onliners’ than those in the first discussion. They were much more positive about the outcomes of adopting cases for online courses. They emphasised the importance of structuring the cases and the online environment to take best advantage of the medium’s inherent strengths, rather than attempting to replicate the face-to-face classroom. One participant made the point emphatically that he felt online spaces are a better host for cases than face-to-face. In fact, he took the lessons learned from online and retrofitted them into a case prepared for an existing residential programme.
So, the feeling of the second discussion was that online case teaching needs setting up correctly but, properly done, addresses some of the pressure points of face-to-face: forcing students to prepare better, the use of longer more complex cases by releasing them as segmented work tasks, increasing and improving participation, and giving confidence to less confident students by allowing them space to research and cross check before responding to an asynchronous discussion.
This was a highly engaged and vibrant session and I was glad to be a part of it. I’m looking forward to taking part in one of the Group’s regular Third Thursday webinars. To see what others thought, here’s a video shot by Tawnya Means of the Online Affinity Group: https://app.vidgrid.com/view/cWYwf7kwT3I4/?sr=THDgXX