Lights, camera, action! Babson College transforms case teaching notes for the 21st century

Lights, camera, action… teaching notes with a difference

Two case writers at Babson College, US, have re-written the script when it comes to teaching notes. The case, Makerbot: Challenges in Building a New Industry, written by Lecturer Ruth Gilleran and Associate Professor Erik Noyes, includes a video teaching note as well as the traditional written version.

‘Our Dean of Faculty, Carolyn Hotchkiss, thought the video teaching note would be a great way to engage faculty who are considering using the case,’ says Ruth. ‘Each month, over a billion unique users visit YouTube and each minute, 100 hours of video are uploaded. Clearly, video has become the predominant way to deliver content.’

Ruth and Erik decided to create the pioneering video teaching note after they had finished writing Makerbot, a case that explores the emergence of affordable 3D printing, a technology, say the writers, that is likely to disrupt the manufacturing industry and create new opportunities for entrepreneurs. The case also examines the advantages and risks associated with open-source strategies that are centred on community engagement.

Complementary alternative

‘It took a while to obtain the resources needed to produce the video,’ says Ruth,  ‘and so during that time, we prepared the written teaching note. The written note then served as the script for the video.’

Lights, camera, action… teaching notes with a difference

Ruth and Erik see the video teaching note as a complementary alternative to the written teaching note.

‘Both contain the same material,’ explains Ruth, ‘but it may be that faculty will view the video while searching for case studies, yet refer to the written teaching note when preparing to teach the course.’

The idea of a video teaching note has already been well received at Babson, and Ruth and Erik are continuing to gather feedback and ideas for improvements.

Target audience

‘Faculty are definitely intrigued by it,’ says Ruth, ‘and they like the ease of viewing a short video. We think a video teaching note would work with any type of case as it is simply a modern way to engage the target audience. We are continuing to listen to faculty feedback, but we are definitely moving in the direction of creating video teaching notes for all the cases we write.’

After considering several options for making the video available online, Babson’s YouTube account was found to offer the easiest access for faculty and distributors. However, curious students will not be able to view the video as it’s necessary to be registered as an educator on The Case Centre’s website to access the link. 


Creating a video teaching note presents a new range of interesting challenges for case writers. For example, it’s vital, explains Ruth, to be comfortable speaking in front of a camera.

‘In addition, if you plan to use a teleprompter, you need to create a script,’ says Ruth, ‘and if there are to be multiple speakers, you must decide in advance who is going to say what.  Also, if the video is to be more than five minutes long, you’ll probably want to add graphics or PowerPoint slides to keep it interesting.

‘Babson has now carried out some research into video teaching notes and has so far found no evidence that anyone else is producing them. So it looks like we might be pioneers!’

About the authors

Ruth Gilleran is a Lecturer in Information Technology at Babson College, US.

Erik Noyes is Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College, US.

Case details

Makerbot: Challenges in Building a New Industry
Ref BAB706C
Also available:
Teaching note
Ref BAB706TN
Video teaching note

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If you have recently registered a case with us and would like the chance to talk about your experience of writing and teaching it please contact Antoinette.
Antoinette Mills Antoinette Mills
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+44 (0)1234 756416