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Business Case Studies – An Effective Teaching Tool

Tell me and I forget.

Teach me and I remember.

Involve me and I Learn.

These lines by Benjamin Franklin have rightly pointed out the gap in our education system. The traditional model of teaching i.e. lecturing would only help students to remember the concepts that have been discussed in class. The effectiveness of the learning process exists only when the students are fully engrossed in the subject. With the availability of electronic gadgets and the internet, the attention span of students has been reducing day by day. In such a scenario, an effective teaching tool that can be used for the business management students is Case-Based Teaching. The concept of case-based teaching is not only found in the management subjects but also found in courses like law, medicine, science, etc. The idea is to make the students understand a real-world problem that needs to be solved with the application of the concepts that the student has learned in the class.

Benefits of Case-based Teaching:

According to Professor Chris Ronald Christensen of Harvard Business School, the case-based teaching classes unfold without a detailed script. This is because the case is relatively unknown to the student, and the discussion that may take place in the class in the context of the case is unknown to the teacher. Many experienced faculty members say that the same case study brings out different learning for the students each time it is discussed with a batch of students. The classroom becomes an open platform for discussion that helps each student to come up with their idea and understanding of the case.

Efforts required in Case-based teaching:

Many faculty members have been using case-based teaching as a part of their teaching pedagogy. This is also practiced in many leading universities like Oxford, Stanford, and Cambridge, etc. The faculty in these institutes believe that the core concept of the case study as well as the course content has to be discussed simultaneously. This requires rigorous preparation on behalf of the faculty. The challenge lies in the ability of the faculty to make the students connect the theory with the practical case study and create ‘teachable moments’ in the process. These teachable moments arise from the classroom discussions and it is the responsibility of the faculty to guide the students through the discussion as well as give the discussion a desired direction. Thus, case-based teaching is a way of discovering the concept in a new manner. It requires the faculty to learn the art of balancing the discussion, planning the direction and also being versatile with strong and powerful storytelling skills.

Teaching cases online:

The current pandemic has created a new normal which includes online teaching. Teachers of all age groups, across the world, had to switch quickly to the online mode of teaching. This was not an easy task to do but then the change was quickly adapted to by faculty members so that the on-going semester could be completed successfully. In this context, the task of case-based teaching became more challenging. One of the major hurdles that the faculty faces while teaching through cases is that not all students read the whole case study and not all students read the case study before they attend the class. This became an even bigger issue to address when the classes shifted online.

To address this issue, the faculty of IILM had to be more proactive and plan the session in small segments. The cases that were taken up for discussion had to be smaller and crisper. Short case-lets are best suited for online case discussions. The questions had to be deep. Taking the advantage of technology, the students were made to discuss among themselves in small groups i.e. break-out groups where the faculty would visit just like it would be done in a physical classroom. The faculty also had to design more short exercises like polls and engage the students in a better manner. An effective way of doing this was by sharing reading material with the students before the class, beginning the class with a recent example, and sharing the faculty’s screen with students so that they can participate actively and share insights. This is followed by a quiz or a small test so that the students can assess their understanding. It can, therefore, be said that undoubtedly case-based teaching is one of the most effective ways of teaching but it will have to be modified with the change in times.

Importance of Case-based Teaching:

Case-based teaching and learning are important as pedagogy as it helps in developing the lifelong skills of critical thinking, collaboration i.e. working in groups, open inquiry, communicating ideas, and thoughts along with subject knowledge to arrive at a solution. Students also like this aspect and are engaged and interested in case discussions. It is a time-tested way of teaching that has been implemented successfully in various courses and institutions. It is an ideal win-win situation for both the faculty as well as the students. On one hand, the faculty can engage the students and also drive home the necessary concepts, the students can apply their knowledge and learn effectively. Thus, the time has come to implement the case-based teaching and learning pedagogy, with a little bit of revamping.

Do comment / write to me on how do you think Case-Based teaching will evolve in the blended learning format.

The Student Teacher Relationship at IILM University

The bond I share with my students is an incredibly special one. This is a relationship which continues for life and, IILM University has given us teachers this flexibility to not only interact with our students inside the classroom but also outside.

At IILM University, this is a relationship of respect, love and trust. The foundation of this relationship gets laid on day one when a student takes admission. It gets nurtured during the tenure of the student, continuing even after the completion of their program. The teacher is a mentor, a friend, philosopher and guide in the true spirit. The students have long conversations with their teacher – whether it is in a professional area or an academic concern or connecting on a personal level or just generally talking on any topic under the sun. There is seamless communication between the teachers and their students. At IILM University, teachers not only guide them to make informed choices about their careers, but also motivate them to bring out their true potential. They give them feedback so that they improve themselves. The teachers enhance their confidence levels so that they are prepared to face the challenging corporate world. Most importantly, they spend time with their teachers at IILM University. This relationship transcends the boundaries of formalities and the teacher acts as a mentor for the students.

At IILM University, we understand that students are at the cusp of an important juncture in their life, and they need the support of their teachers to hand-hold them in order to take judicious career decisions. IILM ensures that they have a smooth transition from being happy-go-lucky students to sincere and serious corporate professionals. The role of a teacher in shaping the life of the students at IILM is far more critical and serious business than anywhere else. At an age when most of the students are unable to take professional guidance from their parents, the teachers act as an anchor in their lives, giving them the direction they are seeking.

IILM encourages its students to come out of their comfort zones. As teachers, we persuade them to take challenging tasks and set tough goals for themselves. In the process, they emerge as winners, because they also learn the art of accepting failure and moving on in life, even if they are not successful.

On my part, I feel, it is this bond with the students that completes me as a teacher. It does not matter what time they call or send a message on WhatsApp. It is my commitment to them that they will get a response at the earliest, if not immediate. I do not believe in scolding them. In fact, I do not remember shouting at any of them ever. But it certainly does not imply that I accept whatever they do and say. It also does not mean that I am a lenient teacher. Throughout these 13 years in academics, students have always listened to me and complied to what I would have said. The students of my first teaching batch of 2007 still get back to me for help and guidance. And the reason for it is only one – I treat them as adults and very gracefully put across my point. I do not hurt them, nor do I say anything that I would regret later. I do not believe in taunting them, nor do I ever expose their weaknesses in front of others. I have never embarrassed them by sharing their personal experiences to other colleagues or students.

I conduct myself in such a way, that it gives them the confidence that they can connect with me and take my help any time they want to. This attitude has never let me down. It has made students connect with me, even if I would not have taught them in class. And not surprisingly, I am in touch with all the student batches that I have taught in these years, in some way or the other. I attribute this to the mutual love and respect that exists in my student-teacher relationship. I believe that if we want our students to become good human beings, we must treat them as one.

Classroom equity: Creating educational equality

Everything that happens in the society is a consequence of human actions. Even though it may seem like a roundabout route, any effort to build a brighter future must begin with a change within human beings themselves.

The way we distinguish our own lives is also the way we distinguish the lives of others. When we have a sense of our own dignity, we recognize the dignity of others and value their lives too. The most fundamental way to achieve peace and happiness is to help people around the world to the greatest extent to reveal the treasure of inherent dignity in their lives.

No epidemic or any other cause is worth depriving students of their right to education. Teachers should not be masters who offer themselves as paragons, but enablers who guide students towards achieving their goals.

It is important that we afford students the highest respect as individuals in their own right. Helping students grow requires total commitment on our part. There is a fine adult inside every child. We need to direct our voices to that inner adult. We must never treat children in a dismissive or condescending manner, assuming they won’t understand and thinking its okay not to fully explain things.

We must believe in students’ immense potential, and strive to develop their innate capacities as well as our own. The more we broaden our own minds, the more we can inspire and foster the students. That is why our growth is indispensable to our efforts to help others grow.

We, at IILM University, Gurugram believe in our students, trust them unconditionally and encourage them to grow and excel professionally as well as personally. We believe in providing immeasurable source of support and encouragement to them. Our effort to provide Liberal Education gives our students the flexibility, knowledge and wisdom to pursue their passion.

Fostering students contributes to our own growth. Teaching students makes us wiser. Learning together with our students and advancing together with them is a path of lifelong youthfulness, giving us fresh perspectives and vitality.

IILM, India & More…

My experience at IILM so far has been incredible. The students are very eager to learn, actively participate in class discussions and want to know how business is done in other countries. The faculty at IILM are very well informed about global issues, they are extremely friendly and go out of their way to make sure you have everything you need. The infrastructure here at IILM is very modern and up to date with all the latest technology. I really enjoy all the space and greenery at the Greater Noida campus where I am staying. The students there are very active in campus life as the other night as I was walking to the cafeteria there was a large fire and students dancing and giving out bags of peanuts and popcorn in celebration of the holiday of Lohri.

The module I am teaching is called Doing Business in Diverse Markets and is very relevant to today’s business world. I could teach this course to business students anywhere in the world. It is a case based course that looks at the successes and mistakes companies have made in expanding into various different countries. It looks at all aspects of the companies expansion, how the financial reporting, human resource departments, marketing and IT systems are all different internationally.

I have seen some amazing sights in my stay here in India but the highlight has to be the Taj Mahal, it is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen.