Schools have used case studies since—well since there were schools. Case studies give relevant, meaningful experiences from which learners can abstract useful concepts and principles.
In a case study, learners are given a comprehensive example to study. The case can be a real world event, process, or system. The learner is also given materials that describe or perhaps even simulate the case. After working with these materials, the learner attempts to answer questions about the case or to generalize the principles revealed by thecase.
WBT case studies differ from classroom case studies in the variety of material available through the Internet, in the use of interactive multimedia presentation, and in the multiple perspectives possible through collaboration. WBT case studies can include a richer mix of materials for the learner to examine and can more realistically mimic real world cases.
Case studies teach abstract, general principles from specific, concrete particulars. As such, they mimic the way most people learn most of what they know: by observing and analyzing their own experiences. Case studies are good for teaching complex knowledge that cannot be reduced to a simple formula. They are especially good for teaching the judgment skills necessary to deal with complex, contradictory situations common in real life.
The instructor assigns and explains the case to study. Learners then work to answer ...