This Insights article was contributed by Dr. William Sackley, Director of BB&T Center for Global Capitalism and Cameron School of Business Professor of Finance
Last summer my colleague, Dr. Adam Jones, Chair of the Department of Economics and Finance, and I finally got serious about a project that we had contemplated for quite a while – the development of an online course in Personal Finance. We are both passionate about the strong need existing for enhanced exposure to these topics. We speculate – and certainly not because we are the developers – that this could easily be the course which provides the most value added during a college career.
The online aspect of this course was for two reasons: 1) the rapid growth in demand for online offerings, especially for courses not in the student’s area of concentration, and 2) the desire to make the course more convenient to all students as opposed to those only in the Cameron School of Business. We launched the course during the now completed Fall Semester. Certainly, we have many revisions in order to improve the course, but our opinion is that students received precisely the exposure we had hoped for within the multitude of topics covered under a basic course in personal finance. This could be the end of the story and, if so, Dr. Jones and I would be very happy with the outcome. But we incorporated one more aspect into the course design, and we could not be more excited with the results.
Under the premise that some variety in course delivery could help students retain their enthusiasm for the course, we attempted wherever possible to bring practitioners as well as other experts into our fairly sophisticated Cameron Recording Studio. The School of Business also has shared access to a (very) professional film editor. Mr. Jack Horn has worked on numerous television programs during his career, and he can make anyone look good on video (I am testimony to that!). Dr. Jones and I called upon several of our contacts, asking them to consider becoming an integral component in the delivery of course material. While each of them would be considered an expert in their area, few if any were initially comfortable with offering “lectures” or being video recorded. We developed and offered initial scripts to each of the guests, with the intention of guiding their initial direction while welcoming personalization of content, thanks to the experiences of all our guest speakers.
What message do I attempt to deliver with this narrative? For some of the practical-based courses offered in a university, the potential may exist for “partnerships” with professionals from within the community. The Cameron School of Business prides itself on engagement with the Cape Fear business community. This includes placement of students with local companies and opportunities for business leaders to come to campus in guest teaching roles. Even though the impact of guest lecturing in an online environment might not be immediately perceived, the end results can be very rewarding. Wilmington definitely has its share – if not more than its share – of true professionals who have something to offer in augmenting the educational process in distance learning courses.
Robert T. Burrus, Jr., Ph.D., is the dean of the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, named in June 2015. Burrus joined the UNCW faculty in 1998. Prior to his current position, Burrus was interim dean, associate dean of undergraduate studies and the chair of the department of economics and finance. Burrus earned a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree in mathematical economics from Wake Forest University. The Cameron School of Business has approximately 60 full-time faculty members and 20 administrative and staff members. The AACSB-accredited business school currently enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduate students in three degree programs and 200 graduate students in four degree programs. The school also houses the prestigious Cameron Executive Network, a group of more than 200 retired and practicing executives that provide one-on-one mentoring for Cameron students. To learn more about the Cameron School of Business, please visit http://csb.uncw.edu/. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected].
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