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MBA Course Adopts New Open Source Model for Student Projects

June 16, 2014

The spring 2014 Information Technology and Solutions course (IDSC 6050) challenged MBA students to examine how businesses use information technologies to reach new markets around the globe. And for the first time ever, the 18 groups' findings are available through an online repository where anyone is free to distribute, modify, and build upon them. Made possible by a Creative Commons license, the open courseware model encourages students around the world to interact with and carry forward the case studies.

"In platforms like Wikipedia, the content is crowdsourced from many people who have knowledge and expertise in that area. That's exactly what's happening here," says Information and Decision Sciences Assistant Professor Soumya Sen. "We've built an online repository of case studies created by students who have been trained in these different principles, and it's made for other students to understand."

The course also explored the potential of a "flipped case" structure. The students were first taught core IT principles in class or through video lectures. They then selected an organization to evaluate outside of class guided by a topic and leading questions provided by the instructor. Each student group conducted independent research and received feedback from Professor Sen to help develop their case reports. This year's topic was the role of cultural adaptation in developing IT solutions for new markets.

Open courseware model draws interest
Already, Sen has been contacted by fellow educators looking to implement the open courseware model within their own curricula. Sen's colleagues will incorporate the Carlson School students' case studies, which involve a mix of business and technology, into their international entrepreneurship courses and student thesis. He hopes to expand the repository in future classes.

"Right now, it's only the students from this course who can contribute, but maybe at some time it can be made into a Wikipedia kind of repository where maybe other schools can also participate," he says.

Students investigate IT applications in a globalized world
Sen's course explored how information technology can boost economies in developing nations. Students discovered the nuances of technologies like mobile, cloud, and social computing; information security; and web communications.

"The internet and information technology holds great promise in this globalized world for creating a level playing field for many countries," says Sen. "It's important for students to understand how to adapt IT solutions and strategies to the local market conditions."

Check out all 18 case studies here.

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