UMassOnline Professor Wins United States Distance Learning Association Excellence in Distance Teaching Award

May 2, 2003

“The USDLA awards recognize the best of the best in the distance learning industry,” says Dr. John G. Flores, Executive Director of the Boston-based USDLA. The Excellence in Distance Teaching Award is presented to “outstanding individuals who creatively use distance education technology to inspire learning.” Theroux received this award for his Real-Time Case (RTC) study, an innovative approach to the case method of business education that he developed and used in an online entrepreneurship course in the fall of 2001.

“The Real-Time Case leverages Internet technologies to “super-charge” the case method, transforming the student-professor relationship into a problem-solving partnership,” says Jack Wilson, Ph.D., CEO of UMassOnline.

“The RTC allowed for unprecedented interactivity between students and the case company,” says Theroux. “Prior to the Internet there would have been no practical way to do such a project.” Building on the traditional case method, the RTC increased “student engagement and student motivation to study, made the material more memorable and gave students a greater appreciation of the complexity and interdisciplinary nature of business decisions,” says Theroux.

Theroux’s award-winning Real-Time Case method focused on classic entrepreneurship topics such as the business plan, venture capital, managing growth, and competitive analysis within the context of actual issues facing the high-tech startup case company. Thanks to an embedded, full-time case writer inside the case company who posted new installments weekly, students followed the case company’s activities in real-time. Using Web documents, email, video conferences, phone conferences, online chat and threaded discussions, students communicated with the case company and each other. Theroux plans to offer another online course using the RTC in 2004.