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Teaching with Cases

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Don't get stuck in just one way of discussing cases.

There are many different ways of discussing cases. Cases provide a flexible, highly adaptable tool for raising ethical and technical issues. For example, there are many different ways to teach cases:

  1. Discuss the case in an unstructured, informal way.
  2. Hold a structured discussion of the case using ethical approaches and a case analysis framework.
  3. Write a social impact statement based on the case.
  4. Write and present a formal document related to the case. Students could write the CAP—corrective action plan—required by the FDA in the Therac-25 case or a memo in the Hughes or Machado case.
  5. Role-play. For example, recreate the meetings held between AECL and the Therac-25 operators. The class could be divided into groups of 4 or 5 and assigned the following stakeholder roles: AECL (management, legal department, board of directors), the AECL team that wrote the program for the Therac-25, FDA officials, operators from the hospitals who have purchased the machine, the AECL team responsible for writing the Corrective Action Plan.
  6. Have students write a script that dramatizes the problem presented by the case.
  7. Have students write a script that dramatizes how they would carry out the solution they have devised for the case.
  8. Use cases to evaluate past actions.
  9. Use cases to practice making decisions in the present.
  10. Rewrite textbook exercises (in computer science courses) to connect them to a case.
  11. Rewrite ethics cases to raise technical issues.

Our point is that you should not consider the exercises we provide for the cases as the only way to teach them. Use your imagination.