A Professional’s Guide for Using Case Studies in Online Classroom
A case study is an organized record of research which traces the development path of a particular person, situation or an incident. The case study is an example which provides a critical analysis of the details of the particular topic chosen, focusing on the objectives, causes, analysis of the situation and its aftermath. It demonstrates theoretical concepts in an applied setting.
Since a long time, medical schools, business schools, law schools and social sciences have been using case studies to teach the students better about a case. Applying the same in other fields too, one can explore various applications of a concept, or to go into deeper roots of a situation. A case study usually requires open ended questions aimed to develop solutions to a problem. It is a good tool in the field of teaching, as it encourages active learning, and provides a good opportunity to work in a team, solve problems together and improves communication. Also, with the help of case study, the gap between theoretical concepts and practice is completed, as the learner can understand the applications of the concepts in a better way.
Even online learning is also benefited manifolds with the help of case studies. One can get better information online, which can help the learner better in dealing with the problems. Also, with the help of case studies as an online learning tool, a person can connect with people from various parts of the world and discuss the various perceptions of the case with them. It serves the learner online well with the information provided, without bearing much pains for it.
Using case study as an online learning tool has various benefits:-
Advantages of using case studies as a learning tool
- Students get an opportunity to learn by performing the task. They can relate to the subject better and read more about it, as the information provided online is endless.
- Students can virtually be a part of any environment and apply their concept and ideas there. Various case studies in the field of science are frequently studied by the students online, where they can understand the concept, know its applications and learn how to apply it the right way.
- It increases their chances of employment all around the world. Students can interact with people of other countries too, discuss their ideas with them and earn from other’s perspectives too. Also, they will know their actual position in the competitive world.
- Organizational managers can learn quite a lot of important things through case studies. They provide information about other companies or incidents from history that can be of use to them. It discusses about the reasons and decisions taken for it, which can be a helping aid to the managers for their own benefits.
Disadvantages of using case studies for learning
- Sometimes, it is hard to judge whether the information provided is correct or not. You may be looking at data that is not accurate and can misguide you as well.
- Looking at case studies online only and not searching them around you and knowing them personally can also be a factor which decreases the quality of your work. Group discussions and personal enquiry should also be carried out. Case studies should be taken as a helping hand, but one should not rely on them completely all the time.
Here is how you can effectively utilize case studies in your classroom
A systematic approach should be followed for implementing the case study effectively. This makes it easier to find out the solutions of a problem. To start with, one should answer the following questions:-
- What is the concern?
- What is the goal of the analysis?
- What is the context of the problem?
- What key information should be taken into consideration?
- What solutions can be framed to the chosen problem?
- Are there any alternatives to the existing solutions?
Answering these, you will get answers to what are the actual queries which have to be cleared for the problem. Also, the structure for your analysis will also be improved as these questions provide the correct path for solving a problem and referring to a case study.
The professional’s guide on how to develop the most effective case studies
Preparing a case study requires a lot of preparation beforehand. A healthy discussion in a group must be carried out to start with your case study, as it gives you an open opportunity to know new ideas, challenges and oppositions to your subject which you may have to deal with. This is the first stage of preparation for the case study.
The case should be read thoroughly well before time, and one should not keep it pending for the last moment. A good understanding of the case will help you make better decisions. If kept for the last moment, one may get confused or unable to understand the case properly. In a well written case, inferences will intersperse with facts. Thus it is important to differentiate facts from inferences to avoid confusions later. Also, the objective of the case study should be clear before going ahead.
For a case study, the facts and situations vary in each case. What seems to work out well for one student may be hard for the other one, in their respective case studies. To achieve the desired targets in your case, one needs to keep a track of the following things:-
- The facts and the variables of the case, which are being discussed
- The correct judgment of right and wrong
- The objective of the case
These are the key elements which will always be the central elements of your case study. Be it in any field such as medicine, science, law etc. the case study is an important part of the curriculum. Through case study as an online learning tool, one can go through these points online too. It may happen that the result seems hard to achieve as the queries arising are hard to answer, but following the correct way of answering the systematically will lead you to the right solutions of the case study.
To develop a case study, there are various ways to work on a case study. One should follow the steps properly. They are as follows:-
- Develop a case study on the interests. Choose a topic which holds interest for you. Though you might have to work with cases that are complicated and may annoy you, but one should know how to develop interest with a topic that seems less interesting.
- Develop your case study from scratch. This requires various ways to collect facts. Visiting institutions, contacting required person to discuss with and other things.
- Invite external lecturers to develop or contribute a case study. This surely adds new perspective to the case study. Case studies online can help even better, as the students can connect with people all over the world and discuss their ideas.
A good case study should always begin with a healthy discussion. A non-controversial question is a good way to begin with. The students should answer it and know each other’s perspectives. An outline of the entire case should be drawn along as well to keep a record of all the information. The teacher also plays a key role while the discussion, as he can motivate the students to be more open and discuss the situations in a better way. The teacher should also grade the participation on the basis of quantity and more important, quality. To keep the class on the right track, he should steer the questions and the discussions happening around in a positive direction.
Case Studies in Online Learning Classrooms
The results of a case study discussion as an online tool are as follows:-
- The student will have a better grasp at the theory and the concepts
- The students are exposed to the real and practical working of the organizations. The college or school can provide such environment only to some extent. Dealing with a case study makes the student work with the actual system.
- The learner can understand the divergent perspective and clear misunderstandings.
- A case study as an online tool will improve your communication skills and interpersonal skills. It requires you to communicate and discuss your ideas and aspects of the case with various people. Also, sometimes it is required to work in a group too, which polishes various skills such as leadership, coordination, cooperation and time management.
Using case study as an online learning tool helps the learner in various ways. Here are some of the major fields where the benefits of learning happen:-
- Group work.
A case study in a team adds a lot to the learning experience. People learn to work in coordination with each other, dealing with various issues learn to cooperate with each other in various situations.
- Time management
Longer case studies require effective time management, as there any several issues to work out with. Also, to complete the study by the given deadline is also an important factor for which one has to be systematic about the work.
- Information gathering and analysis
A case study requires proper research about the matter, its causes and situations that happened. To achieve this, one has to use various kinds of information sources such as internet, library, personal interviews and laboratory results.
Case study as a learning tool are an important thing nowadays. The world is getting more informative everyday, and case studies online are a good access to know the world around. Performing the case study in a systematic way with a good group discussion surely leads us to the right solutions of a problem.