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The future of teaching cases in the classroom

Image: Lu XiaoGina Vega

Gina is Professor and Director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Activity at Bertolon School of Business, Salem State University, US.

Gina has been writing and teaching with cases since 1995 and during the last decade has run case writing workshops at a variety of organizations worldwide. Gina was the President of the CASE Association from 2003-2007, and is currently a CASE Fellow.


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Gina has been Editor of The CASE Journal since 2009.

View The CASE Journal Table of Contents and find out more about Emerald eJournals collections.

Several trends in education are occurring concurrently, and they are creating exponential challenges:

  • More and more classes are being taught remotely, through a variety of rapidly changing technologies

  • Student bodies are growing more diverse in terms both of age and of geography

  • Increasingly, faculty members are recognizing the value of experiential activities to enhance the learning process.

As the diversity of student experiences varies widely within classes, and those very classes often take place asynchronously and remotely, we need to evolve the teaching and development of cases in the business classroom.

Shorter case studies (at The CASE Journal we call them "Compact Cases") can address one main issue, instead of a group of issues. They may encourage the use of one or two analytical tools, rather than multiple tools. They may have a narrower focus, engaging student attention more completely on one topic.

Compact Cases can be read in traditional classroom settings without advance preparation and can be reviewed by journals more expeditiously. These benefits hold true for distance learning as well. It becomes possible for instructors to engage with students and for students to engage with one another, even asynchronously, more easily when dealing with a finite body of material.

Learners from disparate backgrounds and with varying levels of ease with the English language may also find it easier to learn using briefer and more concise materials. And it helps those of us who write the cases to discipline ourselves in terms of length and clarity ... writing to a narrower focus requires us to peel the onion carefully to make our point and design learning objectives that can be fulfilled in the compressed format.

The other major challenge facing case writers and case teachers is the dark side of technology – we lose a lot when we cannot work directly with students in a face-to-face format. We must design ways to make up for that loss, one way being to turn the dark side into a benefit. We can write cases that take advantage of the new means of communication and that include enriching activities, videos, online interviews with case protagonists, and other kinds of interactive and engaging learning experiences.

I am optimistic about the future of cases - cases in new formats, case teaching in new modalities, and case learning for new populations of students.