Research suggests that students prefer visual and video material to text books when studying for the International Business (IB) curriculum. Dr Nukhet Vardar, CEO and founder of Brands Whisper’g, who jointly carried out the study, outlines the findings.
During my years as a university lecturer I realised that I was integrating more audio visual materials in the syllabus because students’ attention span was getting shorter. They preferred visuals and video, over text.
These simple observations led me to read R. E. Mayer’s theoretical work on multimedia learning and I decided to develop a new teaching tool which would make learning business studies much more fun and attractive for students, while empowering lecturers by having more attentive and engaged students in lecture halls.
So the Brands Whisper’g® (BW®) idea was born as a free access web and video-based e-book in marketing, using ‘reality learning’ via a problem/solution method and covering chapters through video case studies. BW®, which was launched in Turkey in 2016, is unique because it turns video cases into core teaching material and reverses the order of teaching – with lectures starting with real life video cases, written by lecturers and narrated by executives – and covering theory at the end.
As we wanted to expand the same product idea and test it with other disciplines covering business studies in different countries, we applied to an Erasmus+ project with four EU universities in 2018 and got a grant to produce an International Business (IB) curriculum by applying the same methodology under the MNC Whispering name. Our project, which will continue until August 2021, is coordinated by KU Leuven, Belgium; Leeds Business School, UK; Poznan University of Economics and Business, Poland; and the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, taking part as higher education partners. We are the UK SME partner, bringing technical know-how to the project.
We began our Erasmus+ project in November 2018 by carrying out online surveys among IB lecturers and student, questioning current practices and their expectations. Our aim was to improve both the content and the format in the MNC Whispering series, based on the results of this research. As Erasmus partners, we reported our research findings in a joint article, published in the Journal of Teaching in International Business in September 2019.
Our findings, based on 116 usable IB lecturer surveys, and 142 student responses, showed that although text books and written case studies continue to be the core teaching material in IB, the acceptance of video case studies was on the rise. Students stated that they preferred video cases over written cases, though the use of video cases comprised only 18% of IB lectures. The use of executive-led videos are even less common (11%). One possible explanation for this could be the difficulties in finding relevant video material as 80% of lecturers said that video cases were hard to find.
Open-ended questions revealed that students appreciated learning how companies deal with real life problems, and said it helped them to: “discuss a realistic problem in the classroom”, and to “see real business environments”. In addition, students considered videos as “making learning experience different”, “bringing in variation to traditional classes” and that videos “enhance understanding of theory.”
These results indicate that students find video cases helpful in visualising the problem and remembering the theory involved. They inspire students, motivate them to study and make IB a more stimulating and fun course. At the same time, students were critical of videos if used as a time-filler and asked, instead, for relevant, up-to-date video cases, relating to recent issues, problems and dilemmas to bring in new insights.
These findings highlight that guided by lecturers, video case studies can enliven class discussions and bring the richness of the real business world into lecture halls, which in turn leads to an improvement in learning quality. This was what we set out to realise more than five years ago with Brands Whisper’g series and, although we have far to go, it seems from these findings that we are on the right track.
Brands Whisper’g was a member of cohort 6 of the UCL EDUCATE programme.