Cases: How to prepare for and learn from them

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, decided broadly on who should say what, and dove right into it. Most of the videos were shot once, and then the very capable Milosz Tuszko edited them, added background, logos and keywords.

The updated videos are a less wooden than the previous version, methinks, and available in high resolution and with better sound. We clarified the differences between my version of case teaching and Hanno’s (both work, by the way). Over the years the original videos have been much watched – hopefully, our students (and others) will watch them carefully, and the result will be better case teaching, more learning, and an even more enjoyable experience teaching.

Details about each video below the fold…

Here is a list of the five videos, with links:

  • Full playlist: Youtube|Vimeo|Downloadable MP4.
  • Video 1/5: Overview – the why and how of cases (Youtube|Vimeo|Downloadable MP4)
    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|Downloadable MP4)
    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 (answering study questions), third for results.
  • Video 3/5: Group preparation (Youtube|Vimeo|Downloadable MP4)
    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|Downloadable MP4)
    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.) We touch on challenges of classroom discussion and how to think about them.
  • Video 5/5: What do we learn from case studies? (Youtube|Vimeo|Downloadable MP4)
    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.


1 thought on “Cases: How to prepare for and learn from them

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