Using Digital Case Studies in Teaching

I recently attended the third annual Learning with MOOCs conference and heard an interesting presentation by William Eimicke, Adam Stepan and Sandesh Tuladhar from Columbia University.  They worked with a team from Columbia’s School of International and Public Administration (SIPA) to transform written case studies, the basis of many professional education programs, into interactive multimedia websites.  These digital case studies are now used in Columbia’s global executive MBA program, law school, SIPA, journalism program, and more.

The team began with the premise that they wanted the digital case studies to be more than just a website version of the 10-15 page documents that were the written case studies.  The goal was to provide students with the chance to hear about the circumstances and decisions involved in the case from the people who were actually there at the time.  For example, the case study on the public-private partnership that revitalized New York City’s Central Park in the ’80s includes video interviews with Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, then-president of the Central Park Conservancy, and landscape architect Doug Blonsky.  The team also included interactive elements in some of the case studies.  A case study in which students evaluate the risks and benefits of evacuating medical facilities during disasters includes an interactive map of an area impacted by Superstorm Sandy showing the locations of medical facilities.

Many of the cases that this team has created are available for free on Columbia’s Case Consortium website, although some of the documentary-style, high production value case videos are only available at a cost due to the investment it required to produce them.  Each case includes an introductory page describing the topic, giving discussion prompts to use in class, and listing what classes might find the case useful.  Typically students are asked to learn about the case outside of class and come prepared to discuss the issues it raises, followed by a written assignment synthesizing the issues.  If you use any of these case studies in your class, we’d love to hear about it!

1 thought on “Using Digital Case Studies in Teaching

  1. Laura B Fogle

    Thanks for sharing this resource. I love this idea as a way to make case studies fresh and more engaging for students.

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