Educational Applications of CMCS: Solving Case Studies through Asynchronous Learning Networks


  • Raquel Benbunan-Fich,

    Corresponding author
    1. Assistant Professor at Seton Hall University Stillman School of Business. During the 1997–98 academic year, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor in the IS Department at the NYU Stern School of Business. She received her Ph.D. (1997) in Management Information Systems from Rutgers University, her MBA (1989) from IESA, Venezuela, and her BS in Computer Engineering Cum Laude (1986) from Universidad Simon Bolivar Venezuela. Her publications include journal articles conference papers, and several publications in Spanish. Her current research focuses on Educational Applications of Computer-Mediated Communication Systems, Asynchronous Learning Networks and Evaluation of Web-based Systems.
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  • Starr Roxanne Hiltz

    Corresponding author
    1. Distinguished Professor of Computer and Information Science, New Jersey Institute of Technology, where she also directs the Collaborative Systems Laboratory. She has spent most of the last twenty years engaged in research on applications and social impacts of computer technology, publishing widely in journals including JMIS, MISQ, Communications of the ACM, and Management Science. Her research interests currently include Group Support Systems and Asynchronous Learning Networks. In particular, with major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, she has created and experimented with a Virtual Classroom [TM] for delivery of college-level courses. This is a teaching and learning environment which is constructed, not of bricks and boards, but of software structures within a computer-mediated communication system.
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W. Paul Stillman School of Business, Office KH 614, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ 07079

Computer & Information Science, New Jersey Institute of Technology, University Heights, Newark, NJ 07102


Case studies are an important component of many business curricula. However, in-class discussion of case studies suffers from temporal and geographical limitations. Computer-mediated communication systems (CMCS) can be used to overcome these constraints. An Asynchronous Learning Network, a CMCS supporting “anytime/anywhere” interaction and tailored for educational activities, may be used to expand and enrich case discussions. ALN-mediated discussions allow students and instructors from remote locations to participate in the discussion at their own convenient times. A field experiment was conducted to test the effectiveness of an ALN vs. traditional manual methods in individuals and groups discussing and solving a case study. Findings indicate that groups working in an asynchronous networked environment produced better and longer solutions to the case study, but were less satisfied with the interaction process.