Mar 1, 2008

Good old classroom

This week I got to spend 3 very intense days on a good old fashion 27 hour classroom experience. And I must admit, it has been one of the best classes I've taken in my company. The class was about consulting skills, had 24 students from Belgium and The Netherlands, 4 tutors from Dubai, UK, Spain and Germany and took place offsite in the Holiday Inn Amsterdam Schiphol hotel. The advantage of that brand new modern hotel is it lays about in the middle of nowhere, so there is nothing to do but concentrate on your course :-).

The course had it all: engaging activities, team forming per table with a competition between tables, a course dinner, theoretical backgrounds and above all one integrated case study to allow all groups to carry out the consulting engagement step by step from interviews to the presentation of the findings. At that time the 4 tutors swapped personalities and became one of the 4 characters of the case study. For me, they are all Oscar-winning actors, it was great.

I spend most of my time making e-learning happen. But of course these kind of classes can never be replaced by e-learning although they require substantial investment. The case study is actually based on a real one back in 1973! However, I do think we can blend just a little technology into these kind of courses to make them more productive. Let me explain myself: this was not my first course based on a case study. My whole MBA experience was largely based on individual preparation of a (Harvard) case study document of x pages with some preparation questions. And that is the part that can be improved with technology: why not set up a website prior to the course with all the (also downloadable) parts of the case study presented in a more engaging and structured way, with multimedia support such as video's etc. The answers to the preparation questions can then also be entered on-line, and actually seen by others and commented on or refined before the class starts. For the control freaks among teachers it even helps to track time spend on preparation and the efforts made. Has anyone come across such a solution yet?

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