Going digital: meeting the challenge

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I always enjoy attending the annual conference of the Academy of Management.

With an attendance of around 10,000 academics and a large number of exhibitors it’s the perfect annual chance to connect with old friends, make new contacts and get a feel for what’s hot in management and business education and management publishing.

This year’s meeting in Anaheim, California, was no exception.

The events in the conference programme get a lot of attention and many of the presentations will already be available as journal publications, via social media or through the AOM’s own website. So I thought it would be interesting to share my personal take on conversations and presentations from inside the exhibition hall.

Digital threats and opportunities

The talk for quite a few years now has been of the possibilities and threats of digital media to existing publishing models. This year, I sensed a first consolidation of talk into sustainable action.

Textbook publishers were at the conference in smaller numbers this year – some evidence, perhaps, of the impact of digital as they respond to tougher sales conditions in the face of increased and disruptive competition from born-digital competitors and open source distribution models.

Pile of colorful magazines

Biggest challenge

The disaggregation of digital content is the biggest challenge to traditional publishers. Why buy the complete textbook if chapter one is the one that you want your students to read? Or the complete album – witness Spotify and other music services based on individual tracks and personal playlists rather than albums.

The challenge is different for case publishers. The case is already at the roughly equivalent level of granularity as a learning object, and therefore below the level at which disaggregation takes place.

A different challenge

For case authors and publishers, and case teachers come to that, the challenge is how to express a case, or a case discussion, to take best advantage of the defining attributes of a digital medium. That’s what’s been missing from many early digital cases. Too many tried to mimic real-world experience rather than expressing the unique attributes on offer from digital.

searchingIMG_1914This year, for the first time, I had a sense at the Academy of Management conference that, rather quietly, something may be stirring in the digital forest. Several exhibitors had digital products or approaches to case teaching on display that attracted my interest. See what you think.

Video series

Ivey Publishing has launched a new series of videos called Choosing and Using Cases – Insights from Leading Case Practitioners. Ivey also presented an interesting variant on case teaching with the launch of its guide for faculty requiring students to write cases as an assessed course element.

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Real progress

Over at Real Time Cases, you’ll find cases composed of video interviews with case protagonists in situ and in the midst of real-time dilemmas so students can work through the scenarios in real time concurrent with the resolution of the problem within the company. And in another exciting development, Recurrence  takes original paper cases and turns them into animated business games using gamification techniques to engage students.

There’s lots going on out there. Watch this space!

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Filed under Business education, Case method, Case teaching, Case writing

Let me tell you a story …

Quite often these days I find myself telling my granddaughters a story I used to tell their mothers. It always begins in the same way: “It was a dark and stormy night …

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut

Their mothers loved it. They love it. And I love both the continuity that this single, rather clichéd opening gives to family life and the power that storytelling continues to exert over young and old.

Storytelling is at the heart of the case method. Both case writers and case teachers must be able to tell a good story. Students must construct a good story through the class discussion. And each day business people must add another paragraph, page, chapter to the story they are constructing: their company’s story.

So, here is a master storyteller, Kurt Vonnegut, sharing what he knows – at once simple and powerful – about the mechanics of storytelling:

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 14.51.31Watch Kurt Vonnegut talking about storytelling in this short video.

 

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Filed under Business education, Case method, Case teaching