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Enhancing Business Teaching Cases with Video

Posted By Elizabeth Gordon, Monday, September 16, 2013
Elizabeth GordonColumbia CaseWorks encourages faculty to integrate video into cases to provide authentic voices and real world information which will engage students in the case. CaseWorks has included video in cases for a number of years and is pleased to share the reasons we use video, the approach we take and the issues we have encountered.

Video Provides Authentic Voices

CaseWorks’ earliest use of video focused on the decisions facing young entrepreneurs, all of whom were alumni of Columbia Business School. These leaders of new ventures were comfortable sharing business plans for use in teaching cases and we interviewed them about the decisions they faced. In this clip from the case Palogix International Limited, Robert Liebsman, MBA ’08, CEO of Palogix speaks about calculating the funds he needed to raise to expand his global shipping business.

We chose to use video interviews to engage students, who hear and interpret the case protagonist’s thoughts directly. In their interviews, executives convey their passion for their business and their concerns for the issues in the case. Video also provides more nuance than a written description, and no editorializing by a case writer.

For the interviews we invite case protagonists to come to our studio at Columbia Business School. We prepare and share questions prior to the taping and conduct a 15 to 20 minute interview. The interview is then divided into short two to three minute pieces, each headlined with a question or title card. These segments are included as links to video clips in the final case.

Video Shows Rather than Tells

Video can also vividly and directly illustrate how a product is produced, how a factory floor is laid out, or how another country looks and feels. When on location at a company we are able to film the production process, or the company offices, as well as interview case participants on site. In the case Blow: The New York Blow Dry Bar the founders consider how to use a capital infusion: invest in a new salon or in a line of hair care products. Here is an example of an onsite interview from the case in which a supplier explains the production issues and costs.

Video also directly exposes students to other cultures or unfamiliar ways of life. In the case Byrraju Foundation: SWEET Water Project a video clip introduces the water treatment business in India. We used a voiceover text rather than a direct interview to provide context for the visual.

Technical Issues with Video

In our first effort to include video we tried embedding the video file within the case file. We quickly discovered that adding video files to our final PDF files created huge file sizes that could not be emailed or easily shared. Now we host the files at Columbia and include a link in the PDF case file. While this solved the file size problem, it created another possible challenge: if one of the cases with video becomes very successful and is simultaneously viewed by many readers, the server may be overwhelmed with traffic and the link may stop working. We have agreed with our School’s technical team to track this for now.

Video quality can also be an issue. We prefer filming in the studio, where we have more control over the environment (i.e., lighting, sound, etc.). When decision makers visit Columbia Business School classrooms, they will sometimes agree to be taped. However, almost without exception, the quality of the classroom video—even if shot by a professional videographer—is not equal to the studio video. When we shoot on location the quality is generally quite good as we are fortunate to have an excellent videographer on staff, but free-lance videographers abound.

Lastly, be aware of video compatibility issues. We currently use an HTML5 player through Kaltura Open Source Video; Kaltura’s player automatically detects the user’s browser and device and displays the video in either HTML5 or Flash format in any device. In the past we used a Flash Player which did not allow the videos to be played on iPad, iPhone, or iPods. Both types of clips are included in this post. In the long run we plan to upgrade all of our video clips so that they are playable on any device.

Student Concerns

While many students like the videos, not all do; some students still prefer printed cases. Those who read cases on paper cannot access the video as they read the case. Thus, we provide transcripts of video as part of the final print case so that the content is available even when the student is reading a paper version. While Columbia Business School is moving towards online course materials, we need to provide students with cases that suit their needs.

About Columbia CaseWorks:

Columbia CaseWorks began as a program to provide support for faculty in developing teaching cases that bring their research, knowledge, and business experience into Columbia Business School classrooms. Our cases are available for sale to registered faculty at our website.

 

Elizabeth Gordon is the Administrative Director of Columbia CaseWorks at Columbia Business School

Tags:  Case Method  case method month  case studies  columbia case works  teaching cases 

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