Darden Business Publishing has launched a new online platform, which offers increased mobile compatibility, and will soon host a first-of-its-kind online community for business case teachers. Darden’s case-publishing arm – the second-largest in the U.S. – will also publish e-books for the first time. These new initiatives respond to rapid changes in technology and reader preferences.
In 2010, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business conducted a Kindle experiment with Amazon to test MBA students’ technological preferences. It turned out that early versions of the Kindle were too rigid for the students’ needs.
“It was the right idea, but we found that it was not the right device at the time,” said Steve Momper, director of Darden Business Publishing.
Since then, Darden Business Publishing has been seeking ways to improve the student case experience on mobile devices, such as tablets and smart phones.
“Those reading cases for classroom discussions no longer need to read linearly,” said Elliot Leflar, executive marketing manager of Darden Business Publishing. “Some of our more advanced multimedia cases and materials are now coded to allow students to jump around and explore the text and video elements at their own pace.”
Darden Business Publishing was founded in 2003 to provide classroom content for the Darden classroom, and to distribute knowledge and ideas from the Darden School across the globe. Today, its catalog contains more than 3,000 cases – plus technical notes, exercises, books and simulations used in more than 130 countries around the world.
Case-method teaching, the hallmark of the Darden School experience, is considered the gold standard of management education. The Darden approach to case studies reveals how all aspects of business tie together and develops in students a bias for action, an ability to make decisions in the face of uncertainty and exceptional communication skills, Momper said.
Cases describe a real-life business challenge. Students read a case, discuss it with their learning teams and, in the classroom, professors engage the students in Socratic-style discussions to solve the business challenge.
Through Darden Business Publishing’s new online community, faculty members from other colleges and universities who use case-based teaching methods will have a new way to interface with teaching materials and the Darden professors who create them. They can chat online with each other and share best practices.
“When faculty members can’t meet and confer with each other face-to-face, the way they can at conferences, they will now have a way to share, learn and hold discussions through our new online community, anytime and anywhere,” Momper said.
The area will also feature blogs and forums, allowing users to share insights and discuss case teaching topics in real time.
Darden Business Publishing’s first e-book, due out in a few days, is “The Strategist’s Toolkit,” by Darden professors Michael Lenox and Jared Harris. The electronic book will provide a framework and a set of tools to aid those who wish to analyze the strategy of an organization. The second e-book to be published, “Entrepreneurs Being Entrepreneurial,” is an adaptation of Darden professor Saras Sarasvathy’s best-selling case, “What Makes Entrepreneurs Entrepreneurial?” This e-book will explore what makes entrepreneurs unique, how they think and behave.
People from around the world pre-ordered Lenox and Harris’ e-book, which was first offered to participants who took Lenox’s recent Coursera course, “Foundations in Business Strategy.” The course, to be offered again starting Sept. 2, was ranked by Bloomberg as one of the Top 10 most popular massive open online courses.
“Innovation is necessary to offer improved content – both in its usability and aesthetic,” Momper said. “We will continue breaking ground in the field of publishing.”