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Reinventing the Classroom

How UCLA Anderson’s innovative teaching partnerships enhance the learning experience

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As UCLA Anderson’s faculty director of teaching innovations and outreach, Professor of Marketing and Behavioral Decision Making Sanjay Sood is leading the way in bringing dynamic collaborations and new forms of teaching to Anderson classrooms.

Those efforts include innovative teaching partnerships with industry leaders, unusual team-teaching collaborations and new “live” forms of experiential learning.

We caught up with Sood as he was about to board a flight to Tokyo and asked him for a few insights into innovative teaching at Anderson and why it matters.

Q: Why is it important to change, or reinvent, the classroom?

Innovation in the classroom is necessary in order to continue to improve the learning environment. Anderson has a history of being innovative in the classroom ― creating one of the first field study programs, our Applied Management Research, is just one example ― so we are continuing to build on that strength. If Anderson is going to excel at teaching the next generation of business leaders, we need to keep pushing the boundaries to improve the classroom experience. For example, several classes are now incorporating elements of experiential learning where students work on “live” projects for companies as part of the class. These types of projects allow students to apply the course concepts and make the class more relevant.

Q: You’ve created a very successful partnership and class with Google. Are similar industry teaching partnerships in the works?

The Google class is one type of innovation that we are pursuing with other companies. The class provided students with a close-up look at how Google approaches digital marketing strategy. More than a dozen Google executives came to Anderson to teach, including the chief marketing officer, the head of Google Chrome, the head of brand Google and the head of international marketing. We are pursuing similar classes with other companies and hope more will be forthcoming.

Q: What is an example of a new course ― or a new kind of course ― that we’re offering now at Anderson, or will be soon?

Professor Keith Chen has developed a new class that teaches students how to make data-driven decisions. Professor Chen created similar models during his work with Uber, and now the students benefit by being able to take a class that uses analytics to develop competitive strategy. This is a blend of the traditional approach to teaching competitive strategy, made more relevant with data analytics.

Q: We’ve heard about some innovative team teaching, with two faculty members teaching the same material from different perspectives or different areas. What does that entail?

Several types of team teaching are being implemented. One pairs a faculty member with an industry executive to teach an entire course together. For example, Professor Noah Goldstein will be teaching a class on leadership with entertainment executive and producer Peter Guber. In this class, students will benefit from the combination of academic frameworks provided by Professor Goldstein as well as the depth and breadth of Peter Guber’s experience.

This co-teaching format goes beyond guest speakers, as Peter Guber is there for the entire class, not one session. This is a format that Anderson is pioneering and developing in multiple areas.

Another example is team teaching in the core. Last year, Professor Hal Hershfield and Professor Elisa Long taught the same case simultaneously to the marketing and operations core class students. Learning the same case through multiple lenses helps students see the bigger picture, similar to what the executives face in that business, rather than the typical focus on one discipline. This multiple core class case teaching will be expanded this year.

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