Cases: How to prepare for and learn from them

These videos have been updated: You find the new ones here.

My versatile and creative colleague Hanno Roberts and I have made a series of five videos on case learning and preparation, originally for students at the BI/Fudan MBA program. This teaching method is difficult both for teacher and student, but highly rewarding provided you give it proper attention – which means effective preparation. Hanno and I talk about the goal of case teaching, how students can prepare individually, how to prepare as a group, how to go through the case discussion in the classroom, and then we sum up with some strategies for how to retain what you have learned. Hanno and I did these videos against a green-screen, with little preparation – we basically met, outlined a structure with some keywords (displayed on the little computer on the table in front of us, decided broadly on who should say what, and dove right into it. Most of the videos were shot twice, and then the very capable Lars Holand picked the least bad clips, added the background and logos, and generated the files in .mp4 and .flv. The lack of scripting was intentional – we did not want the videos to be too formal and stultifying, though the format itself might be. We also wanted to be a bit formal, to make sure we got our main points across. The results is a bit stiff, there are a few repetitions (we intro each clip, to make them more embeddable), but given that these were created also to be understandable for students whose first language isn’t English, I think it kind of works. And it was fun to do, and not too much work. Anyway, the videos are there, free for all to use – and hopefully, our students will watch them carefully, and the result will be better case teaching, more learning, and an even more enjoyable experience teaching. Here is a list of the five videos, along with places you (eventually – I will update the page as I upload stuff) can find them: Full list: Youtube|Vimeo|Downloadable MP4|Downloadable Flash Video 1/5: Overview – the why and how of cases (Youtube|Vimeo) The first video deals with why we use case studies in teaching, and how to think about them: As examples and exercises designed to help you behave like a manager with real managerial problems to deal with. We deal with some misconceptions (such as students thinking that there is a “correct answer” to a case) and describe the importance of laying out a “line of argument” – the important issue being not what answer you end up with, but how you got there. Video 2/5: Individual preparation (Youtube|Vimeo) The second video details how to prepare, as an individual, for a case class. We describe how to read a case carefully, several times, each time with a different purpose: First for overview, second for detail, third for results. Video 3/5: Group preparation (YoutubeA/YoutubeB|Vimeo) (the Youtube version is split in two because Youtube does not allow videos over 10 minutes in length.) In the third video, we talk about how to prepare as a group, since both individually and group oriented case classes should include some group preparation. We underscore the need to plan the work up front, treating the group as a mini-organization, establishing rules and roles for the people involved and making sure that everyone contributes with what they do best – but also that everyone does everything, and everyone should be able to present and argue for the results. We also talk about group issues and how to deal with them. Video 4/5: In the classroom – discussion and participation (Youtube|Vimeo) Here we talk about how a case class progresses, with a beginning (various ways to open the discussion), a middle (with rules for how to comment and the importance of letting the discussion flow), and an end (though not always a firm conclusion.) Video 5/5: What do we learn from case studies? (Youtube|Vimeo) Here we discuss what to take away from a case class – what did you learn? You learn from individual cases, but also by going through many – and then recognizing situations from cases when you run into situations in your own work as a manager.


2 thoughts on “Cases: How to prepare for and learn from them

  1. Hermann Kopp

    Espen & Hanno!
    Great job! I’m looking forward to see the results when I teach my next session in June.

  2. Gabriel

    You are excellent ambassadors for the case method. Very useful tips and suggestions, which I hopefully haven’t forgot by the start of the next semester!

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