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Sloan site to share teaching resources, knowledge

MSTIR to provide free case studies, course materials to faculty and students worldwide
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In an effort to share its knowledge with the world for free, MIT's Sloan School of Management launched a web site Monday that will offer case studies, teaching videos and other innovative instructional resources to anyone with access to the Internet.

While many business schools charge for these types of materials, MIT Sloan developed the new site, MIT Sloan Teaching Innovation Resources (MSTIR), to provide its most current work and developments at no charge.

MIT Sloan Deputy Dean JoAnne Yates said, "Our goal is to spread knowledge and make a difference in the world of business education -- to have an impact on business education and where it is going in the future."

Although MSTIR's collection of materials covers a wide range of organizations, industries and geographic areas, it focuses on areas in which MIT Sloan's research and teaching are on the cutting edge and for which teaching resources are not as widely available. These areas currently include sustainability, industry evolution and global entrepreneurship. The school plans to add more areas as the site grows.

"We want to focus on areas where exciting things are happening and we have a unique contribution to make in management and business education," Yates said.

The web site is particularly unique in that students had a hands-on role in developing many of the materials. For example, some case studies are based on students' experiences in a course called Global Entrepreneurship Lab (G-Lab) working with young companies abroad to address startup issues and challenges.

In the case study, "Compsis at a Crossroads," students address how a Brazilian startup considers entering new markets, particularly the United States. In "," students describe China's online video-distribution market and the challenges for a China-based online video provider startup as it prepares a growth and exit strategy.

Case studies related to sustainability, typically developed in the context of a course called Sustainability Lab (S-Lab) include: "Materials Pooling A, B, C," which describes the concept of materials pooling as a sustainability strategy for businesses and the challenges that such collaborations encounter; and "SunPower: Focused on the Future of Solar Power," which highlights that company's dilemma as to whether to try and maintain market share through a strategy of differentiated technology or through pricing.

Industry evolution case studies such as "DeBeers's Diamond Dilemma" focus on that company's response to the threat of the synthetic diamond industry, and "Eli Lilly: Recreating Drug Discovery for the 21st Century" describes changes facing the structure of the pharmaceutical industry as a result of new science, cost structures and the company's strategy for the development of tailored drugs.

That section also includes a case study on the video game industry, "Sony's Battle for Video Game Supremacy," in which Sony Corporation's CEO Howard Stringer reflects on the industry's 30-year history and his hopes for a successful launch of PlayStation 3.

In addition to adding more areas of focus, the school also plans to add management flight simulators -- interactive models based on system dynamics -- that will be available for faculty worldwide to use with their students. The first set of management flight simulators, targeted for summer of 2009, will include related case studies.

"Great research into the challenges of management isn't worth much if it doesn't lead to change in the real world," said MIT Sloan Professor John Sterman, director of the System Dynamics Group. "MSTIR will create tighter feedback between the research lab and the world of practice, speeding learning, and leading to benefits for all, including managers, students, and researchers. I expect it to be very much a two-way street."

The web site also offers faculty at MIT Sloan and elsewhere exclusive access to teaching notes and videos, as well as an opportunity to engage in online discussions of the downloadable teaching materials.

MSTIR evolved from the same idea that previously launched MIT's OpenCourseWare, a public web site posting course syllabi and materials from more than 1,800 courses in 33 disciplines at MIT. All of the materials available on both sites carry a creative commons license, allowing them to be downloaded, copied and distributed.

For more than 50 years, the MIT Sloan School of Management, based in Cambridge, Mass., has been one of the world's leading academic sources of innovation in management theory and practice. With students from more than 60 countries, it develops effective, innovative and principled leaders who advance the global economy.

MSTIR Website:

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 4, 2009 (download PDF).

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