Transmitting Reality

Teaching with Cases and Studying Students' Learning

Christian PoulsenFrederiksberg (DK), December 2015 - Christian Poulsen, from the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, will present a tool called "Casemaker" on Thursday, 03 December from 14:30 to 16:00. Casemaker is software that supports the case-based teaching method, using multimedia cases and allowing teachers to take control of the process at every moment.

What is the advantage of having students acquire information based on cases, and how does this differ from other teaching / learning methods?

Christian Poulsen: The idea behind the case-based teaching method is transmitting a sense of reality to the student. The case should provide the student with a feeling that "this could be me" in the case.

The teaching case provides the student with empirical data of a real-life situation. The student should scan the data from relevant and irrelevant input and analyze it with theory from textbooks or classes.

In contrast to lecturing, the case method goes beyond transmitting data and knowledge.

After analyzing the case, the students have a case discussion in class and thus pass all the phases of the learning cycle (Kolb).

How does Casemaker work?

Christian Poulsen: Casemaker allows teachers to create and collaborate on cases. When a case is ready, the teacher can assign it with designated tasks to the students. Cases can also be divided into sections to be delivered over a period of time, or different sections can be assigned to various students. Finally, the teacher has access to statistics that give insight into how the student worked with the case.

The Casemaker platform consists of three integrated elements:

  • the CaseDeveloper software component, which facilitates collaboratively developed multimedia cases;
  • the CaseTeacher software component, which supports teachers in planning their case-based teaching by formulating case-based assignments, competence profiles, and learning objectives for students;
  • the CaseAnalyser software component, which allows students to analyze and solve cases and teachers to gain insight into the students’ collaboration and learning processes.

To what extent are cases available?

Christian Poulsen: Casemaker has an integrated case database that currently consists of around 25 items. These cases are from a variety of fields, with some suitable for first-time case-method students and others more appropriate for people who have experience with the approach. Some cases merely consist of text, while others include photos, videos, tables, etc. The Casemaker database is constantly growing, and through a special arrangement with an associated partner, The Case Centre, it is possible to publish simultaneously on Casemaker and via The Case Centre.

What has your experience with this tool been?

Christian Poulsen: So far we have taught classes with Casemaker in Greece, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and England. The most important experience with the tool has been that case teachers have had good opportunities to prepare the case discussion in class.

The analytics of the CaseAnalyser provide the teacher with information on student activity and how far they are in their learning. A concomitant experience has been that the group dynamics among the students have been somewhat different as they work asynchronously on the case analysis. For example, students who had frequently remained "silent" in the past were able to speak their voice. Lastly, and most important, there is a tendency indicating that students who have worked with Casemaker significantly improve the quality of the case discussion.