The MGS Blog

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Case Driven PBL CRIB Sheet

A process view for organising problem-based learning (PBL); to formulate self-defined and self-directed learning goals.  Cases can be analysed at progressively deeper levels, from simple to more complex and/or subtle analysis as you become adept at this approach to learning.

With respect to the cases, you will get out as much as you put in. Consider using the following process and prompts.
  • Case analysis process guide:
    • Read the case
    • Identify what you already know about a topic. 
    • Develop a list of potential problems evident in the case.
    • State learning gaps then resolve them by finding and reading-up relevant material.
    • Summarise your findings and ideas.
    • Generate a synthesis.
    • Present a single page capturing the above (homework).
    • Retrospective (reflect on the process).
  • Case analysis self-question prompts:
    • Are there topics/objects in the case you need to know more about?
    • Do you have applicable prior learning and experience you can bring in?
    • Did the case raise questions for you? How did you answer the questions?
    • Is information presented that you do not understand? Avoid highlighting non-specific generalised experience/skill gaps that you cannot address through independent research and learning.
    • How did you resolve your personal knowledge gap(s)?
    • Our intention is for you to show that you started to address the knowledge gap here. So, what did you learn?  
    • Any general benefit? Is the case applicable to inform future practice?
    • Are your recommendations, prescriptions, statements or claims justifiable?

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Writing a precis

The commentary or précis of a reading/article conveys what you learnt and how you might employ the knowledge. In addition you can employ a critical or analytical interpretation, i.e. what is the intention of the authors, who is the audience, how valid are the claims?

Patterns for a basic précis:
  • Sentence 1:Name of author, genre, and title of work, date in parenthesis; a rhetorically accurate verb (such as "claims," "argues," "asserts," "suggests"); and a THAT clause containing the major assertion or thesis statement in the work. 
  • Sentence 2: An explanation of HOW the author develops and supports the thesis, usually in chronological order. 
  • Sentence 3: A statement of the author's apparent purpose, followed by an "in order to" phrase. 
  • Sentence 4: A significant quote from the paper used in a sentence.

Focus on the article being reviewed, not so much on other readings, books, articles etc.

Please do identify key quotes from the article. These a short statements or at most a sentence or two that distill some essential aspect of the article. A key quote is used: to point to the authors' evidence or claims; to make a justification for your own arguments; to act as a foundation for your own ideas. However, there must be clear delineation between the authors' content and your use of it therefore.

  • For quotes: use quotation marks followed by cite.
  • For paraphrasing: follow with cite.
  • For extracts and transformations like lists and tables: explain source followed by cite.
  • When reviewing, do not quote the author's quotes of other authors. Instead, quote an original passage written by the author of the article you are reviewing.

Please use double quotation marks and page number to identify "the quoted text" p. 23. You could apply one of the standard citation methods if you like e.g. Harvard style:

  • (Surname et al., Publication Year, p.#)
  • (Surname et al., Publication Year, pp.#-range)
Something like "some text" (AuthorSurname et al, 2033, p.7), or similar according to the citation standard required for the document.

Using problem-based cases for self-directed learning

TLDR? Apply the following response structure for case analysis. The 6 points represent the milestones of the skills and developmental process for problem based learning: analytical, self-audit, self-critique, self-plan, synthesis, closure.

Process as follows:

  1. Identify up to three (max) challenges/problems evident in this case.
  2. State knowledge/skills you currently possess relevant to these challenges/problems.
  3. Identify up to three (max) personal knowledge gaps related to any aspect of this case.
  4. Provide evidence of key learning sources you identified to address your personal knowledge gaps.
  5. Propose strategic/remedial actions that may address the three (max) challenges/problems evident in this case.

Structure for a learning process centred on case studies.

How do you read a case and engage with it as a problem-based learning exercise for self-directed learning?

When a learner asks "why?" Often the last thing they want or need is for the answer to be given to them. What we as teachers should enable, is not to provide answers to questions, but to facilitate learning through personal discovery. So when someone asks "why?", a good answer might be "I don't know, but I think I might know how to start the process of finding an answer".

Let's say you are reading a case study but you aren't sure how to deal with it. On the one hand perhaps the case study presents basic statements as facts, or perhaps the case presents so much rich context that it is difficult to see the underlying challenges. It is confusing. Sometimes the problems are well sign-posted, sometimes not. PBL, problem-based cases and self-directed learning offer a way to personalise your own learning, encouraging you to explore, extrapolate and investigate wider issues under your own initiative, an investigation that addresses your personal knowledge-gaps and enables you to further your own learning objectives.

One of the goals of case based learning is to have readers react, question, go out and research, and eventually recommend some change or solution. But crucially, the reader should be looking at the challenges 'in general', the wider issues affecting similar initiatives in today's environment. Furthermore recommendations will be based on research, readings, applicable theory, and evidence; usually evidence you will have gathered yourself (aka research).

Consider case analysis as a process in which the learner poses or structures the problem, explores and shapes solutions to the problem. A reflective turn on the "case as a process" raises the circumstance where the "problems" that the case raises can be construed as personal knowledge gaps. Problem solving drives the underlying personal process of learning.

In order to put some shape on this as a process consider the following "moves":
  • Diagnose: Identify the problems(s)
  • Discover: Independently research the problem area(s)
  • Develop: Propose a response or responses, recommendations to resolve, improve etc.
Remember that recommendations and resolutions based on abstract rules will not necessarily fit actual situations therefore 'expert', rather than simply proficient, determinations will account for both the general issues and those that are context dependent.

The method: in brief.

1. Quickly 'first read' the case/paper/whatever. You will skip some sentences and words. The goal is to read the whole thing in a single sitting, without taking notes, just to get the first impression.

2. After the 'first read' write a sentence or paragraph from memory. This is your initial impression after first reading. Don't go back to re-read parts or seek clarity yet.
3. 'Second read' is also quick but you now underline/circle or write a list of concepts, jargon, terms, identities that are new or confuse, or are unknown to you. These are your personal knowledge gaps. Some of these you will resolve during homework time.
4. 'Third read' you can focus on sections or impressions; come up with a minimum of at least 3 initial diagnosis (continue during homework time). Encourage a variety of analyses, otherwise everyone focuses on perhaps one big superficial criticism like 'the business strategy is broken for these reasons and needs to change'.
5. Homework, self-directed and self-paced learning; address the personal knowledge gaps, work on diagnosis, work on prescribing more than one potential remedy to the problems.

The following are similar structured processes for reading and case analysis. You will probably have your own approach or adapt and modify the steps to suit the your own style and conditions.

Schwartz et al. (2001) outline a typical sequence of learning-centred activities for case analysis.
  • First encounter a problem ‘cold’, without doing any preparatory study in the area of the problem.
  • Interact with each other to explore their existing knowledge as it relates to the problem.
  • Form and test hypotheses about the underlying mechanisms that might account for the problem (up to their current levels of knowledge).
  • Identify further knowledge gaps or learning needs for making progress with the problem.
  • Undertake self-study between group meetings group to satisfy identified learning needs.
  • Return to the group to integrate the newly gained knowledge and apply it to the problem.
  • Repeat steps 3 to 6 as necessary.
  • Reflect on the process and on the content that has been learnt.
The Seven Jump or Maastricht process offers a similar template for structuring small-group case learning (Grave et al., 1996).
  • Clarify unknown terms or concepts in the problem description.
  • Define the problem(s). List the phenomena or events to be explained.
  • Analyse the problem(s). Step 1. Brainstorm. Try to produce as many different explanations for the phenomena as you [can] think of. Use prior knowledge and common sense.
  • Analyse the problem(s). Step 2. Discuss. Criticize the explanations proposed and try to produce a coherent description of the processes that, according to what you think, underlie the phenomena or events.
  • Formulate learning issues for self-directed learning.
  • Fill the gaps in your knowledge through self-study.
  • Share your findings with your group and try to integrate the knowledge acquired into a comprehensive explanation for the phenomena or events. Check whether you know enough now.
The MacMaster ‘triple jump’ describes three main stages for student-driven problem investigation: initial analysis, independent research, and synthesis. Each stage consists of a series of activities (not necessarily taking place in sequence).
  • Initial analysis: identify problems, explore extant knowledge, hypothesise, identify knowledge gaps
  • Independent research: research knowledge gaps
  • Synthesis: present findings – relating them to the problem(s), integrate learning from others, generate a synthesis, self-assessment of learning process, repeat ‘triple jump’ if needed.
You can also try one or more of the following methods to capture and order your analyses, diagnoses, recommendations etc.

Discover the issues...
  • Create an Empathy Map (from a key actor's perspective: the person, what they see, say, do, feel, hear, think)
  • Brainstorm
  • Anti-problem (state the antithesis to the problem and resolve it)
  • Context Map (depict rich context)
  • History Map (depict the past)
  • Low-Tech Social Network (sketch relationships between actors)
  • Storycard the Problem(s)
  • Draw the Problem(s) (graphical system depiction or representation)
Having identified problems...
  • Stakeholder Analysis
  • The 4 Cs or the 4 Ds or the 5 Whys (components, characteristics, challenges, characters; or discover, design, damage, deliver; or ask why 5 times)
  • The SQUID (sequential question and insight diagram)
  • Root cause analysis (cause-reason fishbone diagram)
  • GRAVE, W. S., BOSHUIZEN, H. P. A. & SCHMIDT, H. G. (1996) Problem based learning: Cognitive and metacognitive processes during problem analysis. Instructional Science, 24, 321-341.
  • SCHWARTZ, P., MENNIN, S. & WEBB, G. (Eds.) (2001) Problem-Based Learning: Case studies, experience and practice, London, Routledge.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Research based Term Paper


1. Goal - Scope

Researching a single country, state, or region; the working title will be:
Understanding the relationship between the local and global digital economy and its social impact in [country/region].


2. Deliverables: Term-paper plus video presentation

Term-paper: Paper May Not Exceed Ten Pages Including References.
1-page Personal Learning Reflection included as an appendix.
Appendices are not included in the page count limit.
Video presentation: The video presentation can give a concise overview of the subject matter and impact of your term-paper in a short video format (4-minute duration).
You are expected to create your own original narration and/or spoken audio content, similarly you should utilise as much of your own visual/graphical material as possible. You can of course utilise various elements sourced elsewhere (subject to licence) as background or linking pieces, e.g. diagrams, music etc. if needed as content or for artistic balance. Grade deduction if the presentation/video has text-to-speech narration or uses 'canned animation.'
While not being graded separately from the term-paper, no presentation video results in losing half the available mark for the research project.

3. Starting the research project...

  • Interpret the working title? 
  • Phrase the statement as a question and consider how to answer the question.
  • Write a short literature review to critique aspects of the history, situation, processes etc of a particular sourcing context. 
Can you find primary/secondary economic/social data in the following broad categories?
  • a) Services Sector in general but particularly ICT, ITO and BPO activity (any/all if possible) within the country over time. (aggregate data). For some countries you may only be able to gather aggregate services import/export data and that is fine. The limitation won't be your fault. However you will discover that some countries do provide detailed breakdowns at the level of BPO, ITO, ICT as services or product exports or both (refer to the examples of the previous student projects for inspiration).
  • b) The relative measures of social good and humanitarian values (your choice, e.g. educational attainment, educational participation, unemployment rates etc.), within the country over time. (aggregate data). The measures of societal impact should be relevant to your country's case context; for example it is probably not relevant to consider life expectancy in a mature developed country like the UK, however employment/unemployment, educational attainment etc. is likely to be highly relevant.
  • Impact Sourcing: You may consider expanding your research, perhaps contact actors in the field, conduct interviews or other modes for gathering empirical data. More involved research questioning would depend on the kind of access you gain and the types of evidence you find. Extending your scope might include some or all of the following:
    • What (if any) actual social enterprises (or businesses with an overriding social mission) are there and how are they doing? Social enterprises of most interest (although you might relax the criteria just to get evidence) in this instance would be those in which locals provide service/products -- ideally digital and or digitally mediated -- to distant clients.
    •  Researching the wider financial welfare effect of having any kind of local business, even the effects of individuals, sole traders' business activity through involvement in microsourcing for example. The welfare effect is the economics term for eventual outcomes of profit accumulation. It assumes profits will filter back into the economy, may also be construed negatively, that social costs of unethical business may be carried by the wider community.
  • There may be evidence of impact in terms of what might be called social capital, civic community activity etc. This could be the kind of social cohesion that Robert Putnam talks about.
  • Find trustworthy accessible primary and secondary data sources addressing questions like:
    • What portion of the country/region activity is traded globally? 
    • How is/are globally traded services activity measured? 
    • Is ICT sector evident in traded services measures in this country/region? 
    • Has the level of educational attainment changed over time? 
    • Can you track digital industry and entrepreneurial activity over time?
    • Is activity in local digital-rich industries increasing?
    • Can you find primary/secondary data on educational participation, attainment etc. and workplace activity, participation, salary growth etc.? 
    • Is FDI (foreign direct investment) data available?
    • Is FDI related to digital-entrepreneurial activity? 
    • Is FDI associated with educational attainment? 

4. General points on writing...

This term paper is written in an academic style, presenting background reading, research methods, research, analysis, theorising etc.
You must use the scientific conference template for the European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS - being held this year in Norway - Choose between either the LaTeX or Word template - copies of both are available on Google Drive, links below.
Most important! Please ensure that any direct use of 3rd party material (particularly internal documentation) is presented within quotation marks or boxed or otherwise marked in some way and with the appropriate citation/identification.

A small number of selected figures/graphs to support analysis may be included in the body text. However more extensive figures/graphs can be included in the appendix (no page count limit within reason). 

If you deem it necessary, provide only a limited number of indicative samples of original source data tables in the text. You can include more extensive tables in the appendix if needed. However unless they are a concise format, do not include full copies of large data sets in the appendix. We will assume that you have stored copies in your private working folder that could be inspected (in theory) if required.

5. Structure of a typical journal style paper - not all sections may be needed

The title and abstract should both capture the essence of the study.
Introduction / Literature (positioning)
Give a brief introduction to the literature and positioning for the study.
Research Design / Methods / Context
Outline your research design, and method.
Data / Findings
Tell the story, provide the evidence, findings, account or narrative.
Analysis / Discussion
Analysis and discussion allow you to draw out the significance of what you have discovered. This is where you can apply/trial various analytical models or produce your own interpretation of the data, in order to better understand the evidence.
Conclusions summarise the findings concisely, often in a page. This is a overall synthesis distilling your analysis and its relevance to theory and the literature.
The bibliography/reference section is crucial to get right as it is the index to prior research and literature that you have referred to previously.
Appendices (if needed)
Use appendices to provide additional detail if necessary. Usually data samples, or intermediate representations, for example a sample of the data analysis process, coding frames, stages in the coding and summary or intermediate categories from data.

6. Grading

Grading will consider the following criteria:
  1. The research project is clearly explained.
  2. Critical positioning in literature.
  3. Empirical work, data and evidence presented.
  4. Overall quality of the document as a finished product.
  5. Contributions are clear.

A brief explanation of letter grade descriptors is provided below.

Modular (letter) grades.

  • The report is suitable for submitting to conference, journal, or executive with little revision.
  • There is a compelling logic to the report that reveals clear insight and understanding of the issues.
  • Analytical techniques used are appropriate and correctly deployed.
  • The analysis is convincing, complete and enables creative insight.
  • The report is written in a clear, lucid, thoughtful and integrated manner-with complete grammatical accuracy and appropriate transitions.
  • The report is complete and covers all important topics.
  • Appropriate significance is attached to the information presented.
  • Research gathered is summarised in some way, research and analytical methods described and discussed, evidence linked to argument and conclusions.
  • The report may be suitable for submitting to conference, journal, or executive if sections are revised and improved.
  • There is a clear logic to the report that reveals insight.
  • Analytical techniques used are appropriate and correctly deployed.
  • The analysis is convincing, complete and enables clear insight.
  • The report is written in a clear, lucid, and thoughtful manner-with a high degree of grammatical accuracy.
  • The report is complete and covers all important topics.
  • Appropriate significance is attached to the information presented.
  • The report may be suitable as a discussion draft for further development or refinement.
  • There is a clear logic to the report.
  • Analytical techniques are deployed appropriately.
  • The analysis is clear and the authors draw clear, but not comprehensive conclusions for their analyses.
  • The report is written in a clear, lucid and thoughtful manner, with a good degree of grammatical accuracy.
  • The report is substantially complete, but an important aspect of the topic is not addressed.
  • The report may have used or presented some information in a way that was inappropriate. 
  • The report may be suitable as a preliminary draft but needs substantial revision in a number of areas to develop further.
  • The basic structure of the report is well organised but may need rebalancing.
  • The content of the report may be partial, incomplete or unfinished with important aspects not addressed.
  • The report used information that was substantially irrelevant, inappropriate or inappropriately deployed.
  • The report’s analysis is incomplete and authors fail to draw relevant conclusions.
  • The report may contain many errors in expression, grammar, spelling.
  • The report may appear to be preliminary, speculative, and/or substantially incomplete.
  • Whatever information provided is used inappropriately.
  • The structure of the report may be inappropriate or need substantial reorganisation and/or rebalancing.
  • There may be little analysis, evidence may not be founded, the findings may be inconclusive.
  • The report appears to frequently use information that is substantially irrelevant, inappropriate or inappropriately deployed.
  • The report may be poorly written, organised and presented.
  • Frequent errors of grammatical expression.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

This class is supported by DataCamp

datacamp: clear as data

This class is supported by DataCamp

Class members will receive invitations via their email addresses and can access the DataCamp class from the following link "MIS41010 Outsourcing and Offshoring."
We think DataCamp is the best platform for self-paced learning for data science skills development.
DataCamp is the most intuitive learning platform for data science and analytics. Learn any time, anywhere and become an expert in R, Python, SQL, and more. DataCamp’s learn-by-doing methodology combines short expert videos and hands-on-the-keyboard exercises to help learners retain knowledge. DataCamp offers 350+ courses by expert instructors on topics such as importing data, data visualization, and machine learning. They’re constantly expanding their curriculum to keep up with the latest technology trends and to provide the best learning experience for all skill levels. Join over 6 million learners around the world and close your skills gap.

Some thoughts on learning using DataCamp

Taking the DataCamp learning tracks early and taking them seriously is important. The knowledge and learning you will gain will stand to you in your career, although you may never end up coding for work you will have acquired a deep appreciation for the work itself and an understanding of the concerns of the people who do and who you will interact with or manage.

You will inevitably encounter specific learning challenges in different tracks. The programming courses (like computer programming in general) will pose challenges of syntax, logic, even spelling. Yes, coding can be extremely frustrating for us all, regardless of experience. That is why we also offer in-person tutorials. We believe that self-directed learning still needs an element of interaction with others to succeed, to help problem solve, to overcome roadblocks. 

We have all encountered education models where information is presented pre-configured, where the answers are provided in plain view, merely requiring extraction and mapping to solve problems, or regurgitating at the right moment of a multiple choice question. 

But if you find yourself stuck on a problem and unable to make progress based on the instructions. What then? The educators in DataCamp, while providing lots of scaffolding and spoon-fed problems, actually encourage, and in many cases require, the learner to go off and explore other related content and solve problems using external resources. 

Using "search", drawing upon and participating in online communities such as StackExchange and other sources is both appropriate and commended. Not for copy-and-paste-code, but for phrasing the problem, following dialogue, engaging in conversation. Over time you will find yourself emboldened to take an active part in these communities, supporting others as they struggle problems like those you eventually overcame.

The value of using DataCamp

The DataCamp skills self-paced training is directly relevant to digital and business in general. Employers recognise and highly value even basic python, R, Excel or general data science skills. Everyone's paths will be different and DataCamp supports different learning needs, offering support and challenges suited to both beginner and experienced learners.

More importantly the data analytical tools are directly relevant to our term paper project, whether you use python, R or Excel, ultimately the DataCamp courses will help. Indeed some projects in DataCamp align very closely to the term paper project; not the same but similar enough to inform your own work. When you are ready you should consider following one of the many guided or unguided DataCamp projects by browsing through the catalogue:

A relevant example (using R) is "Visualizing Inequalities in Life Expectancy" 

An introductory pathway for new starters and programming rebooters.


Monday, September 19, 2022

Venture investment in emerging markets

What do the Congo, Iraq, Uganda, Bangladesh have in common? Unlikely though it might seem, emerging markets are starting to attract the attention of investors seeking to find the next big thing. One of the arguments supporting this move is that solutions designed for a developing economy often leapfrog the  technological/infrastructural conditions if not constraints of a more developed economy. (link)

"Startup entrepreneurship and investment is a famously risky business, and founders and VCs overwhelmingly prefer business-friendly countries. But as new investment spreads throughout the globe, countries known as dangerous and difficult places for startups have come into play. With the help of World Bank and Crunchbase data, we look at four unexpected places where startup funding is on the rise."

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Creative Commons licence - using and sharing media legally

As creators ourselves we need to understand copyright, royalty, licences, and permissions. Especially as we publish our own work under a Creative Commons licence.

Audio media to use/reuse/adapt

Searching for CC licensed audio on 

Broad visual media to use/reuse/adapt

Searching for CC licensed images on