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On the case

Acadia profs adapt business studies for the ‘net’ generation

On the case

Text-based learning materials? That’s so last decade. Today’s generation of post-secondary learners has grown up in a mobile multimedia world and it’s no surprise that they prefer to have their education materials delivered the same way.

What might be surprising, however, is that a study of multimedia-using business case study users showed that more than 70 per cent of students said multimedia cases actually improved their critical thinking and more than 85 per cent said this method of study led to additional independent research.

Most surprising of all is that this research into multimedia business case study habits — as well as the fact that there were even multimedia business case users to study — is a direct result of the seminal efforts of Drs. Conor Vibert and Michael Sheppard, both with Acadia University.

Vibert is a professor of Management studies who specializes in online competitive intelligence and the application of theoretical management frameworks to the digital workplace; Sheppard, who is also a professor, has more than 20 years’ experience in the IT sector. Their skills and experience merged to create CaseNet, e-business cases for the Internet age.

With the assistance of grants from Springboard Atlantic and the Nova Scotia Gateway Secretariat, combined with both in-kind and grant support from Acadia University, Vibert and Sheppard have been working on the platform of CaseNet for three years and creating multimedia case content for roughly five years. Content found in CaseNet has been used as an educational tool at Acadia and Curtin University in Perth Australia.

Business case studies used to be cumbersome, bulky files of one-dimensional ink on paper. Thanks to these two enterprising instructors, students now have access to go-anywhere electronic files that they can view on their smart phones or other digital devices. Close to 200 cases have been loaded into the CaseNet system to date, with each case consisting of a streamed video interview with a real executive identifying a real business problem (each video is accompanied by a script, ensuring factual accuracy). These video cases are organized into easily-digestible modules such as “issue” and “background”, making them easy for the student to consume while riding the bus or waiting for their next class to start.

Innovative educators that they are, professors Vibert and Sheppard are already working on a growth strategy. Not only are they continuously adding new content to CaseNet, but they are also expanding its reach to other post-secondary facilities. This year will see them target community college, CEGEP, undergraduate and graduate business programs across Canada as well as a couple of corporate training relationships. And they hope to be able to announce a large scale distribution deal before the end of January.

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