I would like to start off this blogpost by introducing my thoughts on an article that I have recently read. The article was analyzing why students in the Economic programs or Business programs in their undergraduate years are having a hard time finding jobs compared to the students in Engineering programs these days (sadly, it is true for South Korea at the moment. I believe it is slowly turning into a similar situation in US too). The writer's main claim was that even though the students who study in the Economics or Business programs aim for officer or manager positions, the things they learn in the university has nothing to do with their future jobs. Rather, the students were, and are learning theoretical things in their classes. "The things that they teach in Business schools are how to wrap the cover of a product in a beautiful way. They do not teach how to sell the product. It's sad, but I see this as the inevitable truth." (This is a direct translation from the article)
Reading this article, myriads of thoughts came into my head in and out. And in the center of those thoughts, I slowly pondered how my ECON 490: Economics of Organization class was done this semester. I had to, because this class actually was a new, fresh experience in regards of the way of learning Economics with my years in UIUC.
The main point I wanted to give credit to my professor and his class was that he was actually trying to tie up his experience as a CIO (and associate dean) for UIUC eLearning in the College of Business. Instead of reading the text book and memorizing the main concepts for the midterm and finals, we were to actually think about the real life example from the experiences that we went through while we were inside the organizations ourselves. While doing so, we went through the concepts we were to learn in the textbooks with some real life examples from the professor in class, which actually helped me to get a little bit more of grasp on the concepts we had to comprehend. Some people might say 'Hey, that's just something that can happen in class. What's so special about it?' Maybe they are true. But I also know that most of the professors in Econ department DO NOT try to use out of class materials to convey the fact that out of the class materials are actually important for the future. I'm not saying that in-class materials are not important, but I feel like the education towards the pragmatic things are now kicking in as more important point in today's job markets.
The excel work sheet for each concepts were actually a great source to learn the concepts that helped me to familiarize myself with the main topics of the class. Although the concepts were to be approached by using examples in real organization situations, getting a firm grasp on the theoretical part is nevertheless an important thing to do for understanding. There were quite frequent typos, which made me giggle while reading the excel sheet over and over again for understanding it thoroughly. But I think the excel homeworks were a really great way of learning things with explanations written by the professor himself, making me feel that he actually put in effort to give us the learning we need in a way that we could access whenever and wherever we wanted to see.
Blog posts were also an unique way to check our current status in the class. I really liked how the topics were related to our course, and we had to 'twist' our thoughts to give the insights that actually satisfied the professor. His feed backs were given out in the class after the blog post was written, and sadly, I often saw him not too much satisfied with the blog posts that were written. One thing that might help the students learn the additional thoughts that requires 'twist' in thoughts would be a little bit of more emphasis in the class while describing it. To be honest, the class was actually in a slightly fast pace. I know that the students didn't ask too much questions, and as a result the professor didn't have too much to elaborate on the concepts that would rather have been fun if explored (can't blame anyone on that!). However, even if the students do not ask, I believe that getting exposed to the concepts, which would be just passed away without even a notice, is a great difference to the students' knowledge. I know it sounds like one has to put the food in students' mouth and actually move the students' jaws up and down with hands to make them chew, but I feel it really makes a great difference by knowing the concept and dwelling on it once more to write the blog post.
Overall, I really enjoyed the class. The topics of the class were very interesting to me and the methods of teaching was fresh experience for me as a student. A thing that is etched inside my head is this: "You will not use these things when you are starting your career after 2~3 years. When you start your career, it is highly likely that you will not start your position as a manager." Of course, the specifics of the class are aimed for managerial positions. However, I think there are more to this class than just learning the textbook materials that helps you calculate the economic rent with the formula. I know I learned much more than what I had to learn in this class, and I know this class will be remembered when I am trying to communicate with my staffs 15 years later in my job place.