I was in an open house lunch meeting yesterday with Dean Carraway and the conversation meandered its way to the sustainability initiative the school has rolled out this year, specifically relating to our cases going online. Our class last year piloted this program by taking our finance course online, meaning that instead of course packets and course books, we could download all of our materials – cases, tech notes and exhibits – off the course website in PDF or Excel format. This year, it seems that nearly 90% of the first year course material has gone online, with Section D being the participants of the Kindle program. We talked about how it is relatively more complex to do the same exercise for the second year course materials given that there are 30 different courses and professors and therefore materials for the first quarter alone!!
I have taken four subjects this quarter and 2 of those subjects offer online options to download my cases. The fourth one, operations strategy, which could technically go online too, is currently distributed in book format, but the course website allows us to download select tech notes and cases and of course, the exhibits. While I appreciate the efforts of the school to get us to our paper-less targets soon, I understand the frustration of students who cannot read off of their computer screen because of the inability (or relative tediousness) to annotate and underline as they study. I opted for paper copies of my Valuations course materials simply because I found myself highlighting every other line of my tech notes and scribbling notes and diagrams on the margins, making the whole experience rather messy. However, I find it very useful to have online copies of the rest of my course since it literally takes the weight off my shoulders to carry my course packs around!
But the aspect that I like best about the course being online is that I have access to it for the rest of my life! I can carry my Darden education around in my head and in a hard drive too! I think of all the thick books on Mechanical Engineering lying at home in India and the amount of space they occupy, and I’m happy that I won’t be having any of that with my MBA course material. But what I’m feeling really good about is that as an institution and individuals, we’re doing our bit for the environment. That calls for a pat on the back, don't you think?