Part 7: Spring 2018 Labs

106 Online Modules for Case-Based Learning with Ruth Sullivan and Kathy Hendricks – 03.01.2018

In the March 1, 2018 Active Teaching Exchange, Ruth Sullivan and Kathy Hendricks described how they moved a “bricks and mortar” case-based, capstone group learning exercise in the first-year veterinary curriculum to a digital format in an active learning classroom. They related their experience creating the digital modules, preparing students and staff to navigate the active learning classroom and the range of online tools used with the integration of Canvas, and supporting the final deployment of the modules.


  • Case-based exercises in a face-to-face setting can be a logistical nightmare because of all the moving pieces and distribution of materials. Students move at different paces, or they often need the same physical material object (e.g. film radiographs) at the same time.
  • Shifting these case studies to a digital delivery can eliminate many of those logistical challenges.
  • The process of moving a first-year, 96-student veterinary medicine case exercise to the digital realm took about six months using Articulate 360. Although Articulate 360 comes with a $500 licensing price tag, the program works well for case studies because it combines a narrative of multimedia, quizzing, and feedback. (For more on Articulate, see the November 18, 2016 Active Teaching Lab recap.) 
  • A structure that worked well was for student teams to view the case in Articulate and use Google Docs to collaborate and problem-solve in a three-hour session. Ruth and Kathy recommend a short training session for students on using Google Docs and Articulate beforehand.
  • The process of moving to a digital platform prompted scrutiny, restructuring, and refinement of the case — as well as a tighter focus on the main student learning outcomes.
  • The clarity of the instructions in the modules is crucial. Ruth and Kathy piloted three iterations with students and colleagues before they finalized the case.
  • Digital case exercises offer flexibility for students, harmonization of approaches, and easy onboarding for new instructors.
  • Grading groups in Canvas requires SCORM. (See the December 17, 2017 Lab recap for more on SCORM).
  • Grading on process rather than finding the “right answer” emphasizes the step-by-step critical thinking required in real-life scenarios. 


Active Teaching Exchanges are held Thursdays from 1-2pm in room 120, Middleton Building (1305 Linden Dr.). Check out the upcoming Exchanges or read the recaps from past Exchanges.

Like the Active Teaching Exchanges, Active Teaching Labs feature instructors sharing their teaching experiences with tools and techniques, but also provide time for hands-on exploration of tools. Labs are are held Fridays from 8:30-9:45am in room 120, Middleton Building as well as some Wednesdays from 12:30-1:30pm in room 302 Middleton Building. See the full calendar of both events. Stay informed about upcoming Labs and Exchanges by signing up for regular announcements by sending an email to


Active Teaching Lab eJournal Copyright © 2016 by DoIT Academic Technology and the UW-Madison Teaching Academy; Jennifer Hornbaker; John Martin; Julie Johnson; Karin Spader; Margaret Merrill; Margaret Murphy; and Jeffrey Thomas. All Rights Reserved.

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