The Values Institute at the University of San Diego produced this seminar with Dr. Thomas Shanks of the Markkula Center for Ethics at The University of Santa Clara. The module is web-based video, 52-minutes in length, which presents a discussion about state of business ethics. Other faculty as well as students are also featured on the video.
The learning goals of the session appear to be to increase the audience?s awareness of: (1) the meaning and definition of ?business ethics?; (2) the relevance of caring about business ethics in today?s workplace; (3) increasing awareness of one?s personal values (ethics) and their application at work; (4) confronting issues that require ethical decision-making. Dr. Shanks also provides pedagogical suggestions and examples for the teaching of ethics.
Target Student Population:
Faculty, College students, graduate students, and professionals.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Some introduction to business.
Type of Material:
Used as a overview and introduction to issues and situations regarding the ethics of business.
Pentium speed computer, fast Internet access (at least 50 BPS), and Real Player V8.0.
Evaluation and Observation
: ?Conversation About Business Ethics? is very much what the title implies, with Dr. Shanks as the seminar leader. While the video is long, the quality of the material covered in the session and the exchanges between Dr. Shanks, faculty and students makes this a worthwhile module. Shanks outlines a theoretical framework for business ethics, which is grounded in real-life examples, relevant literature, current events, and his own consulting, experiences. The session flows seamlessly flows from the seemingly simple to the complex. Shanks is very articulate, a good listener as well as teacher, and if one is really interested in learning more about the field of business ethics, then one should take the time to watch this video.
As mentioned earlier, the video is long and no clear overview or objectives are provided prior to the conversation. Therefore it is difficult to assimilate and piece together the range of information and material that is discussed in the seminar. This is also a ?talking heads? format, and some viewers may simply not have the patience to watch the entire session.
In addition, there are various times during the conversation when Dr. Shanks mentions numerous academic books and articles, but it is difficult to capture the exact citations that were referenced. The video could be improved immensely by attaching or linking it to some slides or links that provide additional resources.
This is really not a stand-alone module. Instructors, if they are to utilize this video, will need to create a good set up, provide a better context for the Shanks conversation, and add discussion questions that students could use after watching the video.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
While this module requires students to passively view the video, Dr. Shanks is an engaging seminar leader who asks session participants questions throughout the discussion. Shanks continuously interacts with participants, building on their comments, illustrating his points with examples, so even the video audience can become engaged at a critical thinking level.
The video could also be used to illustrate what a quality seminar looks like, and how the instructor involves participants in the material/discussion. It is also interesting to note that the some of the participants during the discussion pose very difficult questions to Dr. Shanks and actively challenge his ideas. Some play the role of ?devil?s advocate,? expressing counter-positions that may mirror the reactions of some viewers.
While the video is extremely interesting, viewers are not given clear objectives for the session, and very little context is established at the start of the video. It would be helpful if an overview of the discussion?s objectives and format were included on the web site from which the video is accessed. Providing a cogent outline/summary of the session?s key points, learning objectives, which could be linked to the video segment, could enhance the module. Since the video is long, if it is technically feasible, the minute-counter positions for key points could be included in this summary/outline and made available for quick reference.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
This module requires that the user have an updated version of Real Player software on their computer (I needed to upgrade to version 8.0). Once I had the new version of Real Player installed, then it was relatively easy access the video. Real Player operates much like a CD or DVD player,
so one can stop, start, fast-forward the video at will. The minute counter also will allow the user to keep track of where they are in the video in case they choose to watch the video in segments.
Technical obstacles may present a problem for assigning this module to students. Students will need to have access to a fairly fast computer, with a fairly fast Internet connection (at least 50 BPS), and Real Player version 8.0 software. Most computer labs on most university campuses should meet this requirement, but it is important to check beforehand.