Just in Time Syllabus Examples
Using Global Economy/Multinational Corporation Topics

Illustration of the Levels of Learning through the infusion of Just-in-Time materials in a course on Understanding the Global Economy

The JiTS engages the student with the subject matter on distinct cognitive levels, with the goal of increasing the student's sustained engagement in higher-order thinking (analysis, synthesis, evaluation). The currency of information, availability of multiple perspectives, and appeal to diverse learning styles which use of the Internet provides promote achievement at each level and facilitate transition to the more complex levels.


Level 1 - Receiving current, instructor-mediated information to supplement course text and readings:

Updates of current data, definitions, or concepts, mediated by the instructor, are added to the Text or Readings. Current information that updates text or readings keeps students aware that economics deals with real issues in a constantly changing world. Updates reinforce comprehension about economic relationships and insure their currency. Updates may be:
  • sent as email updates;
  • linked to the course syllabus; or
  • given as reminders during class periods.
Maintaining currency in the study of so dynamic a subject matter as the global economy requires access to recent data unlikely to be found in textbooks. Definitions and concepts may also change faster than textbooks. Further, both old and new concepts can be effectively illustrated with striking examples that occur while the course is being taught. The simplest level of using a JiTS provides students with instructor-mediated access to current data, concepts, and examples. Instructor mediation insures that students are exposed to high-quality websites. Discussion of the pitfalls and potentials of Internet use can follow.

Course Title: Understanding the Global Economy
Course Level: 200 level course/Sophomore/any major
Topic: The Multinational Corporation [One of six themes in the course]

A. Supplementing course reading with Current Data (monthly/annual updates of economic data)
Data on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

U.S. Data: FDI in the U.S. [Capital Inflows]

U.S. Data: FDI by the U.S. [Capital Outflows]

World Data: UNCTAD Statistics Handbook online-Item 4.4 on FDI

OECD Data: OECD Statistical Portal

B. Updating Definitions (as economists change the way we measure/count/define)

Alliance Capitalism: "The Changing Nature of Firms and Governments in a Knowledge-based Globalizing Economy" John H. Dunning

C. Concepts (updating changes in examples)

Examining the changing nature of production, cross border networks and Wintelism.

"Wintelism" is the code word that best captures the character of the new global electronics era because Intel and Microsoft pioneered many of its dominant industrial and business practices and are now leveraging their market dominance to alter the terms of competition in other informatics markets." Borrus, Michael and John Zysman (1997) "Wintelism and the Changing Terms of Global Competition; Prototype of the Future?" BRIE Working Paper, 96B, University of California, Berkeley. 

Level 2 -- Observing and Comprehending Information

Students can be intimidated by economic concepts so that the very act of going online and, with direction, picking out relevant information can have a demystifying, empowering effect. The sense of empowerment, in turn, extends students' confidence in their ability to comprehend the meaning of the acquired data so that they can proceed to use it as directed. In Level 2 students listen to, view, and read conversations on economic concepts and issues that reinforce a variety of learning strategies and provide instructors with active learning opportunities.


Understanding the Global Economy:
Topic: The Multinational Corporation

Continuing the topic of the Multinational Corporation, students are taught

  • how to use the information on FDI to compare the capital inflows and outflows in a region of the world;
  • to examine the rate of change of capital inflows into selected countries;
  • to ask the cognitive questions of why this is happening;
  • to relate these phenomena to cross border production networks, and to]the nature of the global firm in the 21st century.
A videotape* on "Knowledge Capitalism: Rethinking Competition in Knowledge Intensive Systems" featuring John H. Dunning and Michael Porter is shown in class.

Students are assigned "inquiry" papers: Ask the students to select any concept or definition within the topic that is of interest to them. In a paper approximately three pages long, ask students to investigate concepts studied in class and in the assigned readings, both online and in print. The discovery/inquiry paper is a preparatory step for the end of semester project.

Example of an Inquiry Paper: You came across the concept of "competitive advantage." You are intrigued by it. You want to know more about it. How would you conduct the research for this inquiry?

*An Academy of Management Classic for Strategic Management and International Business. [1997]. Produced and directed by Monisha Das and Rutgers University CIBER, Newark, N.J.

Level 3 -- Beyond Observation: Developing Alternative Interpretations

Understanding the Global Economy: Continuing on the topic of the Multinational Corporation,

Whereas in the first two levels, students were helped to acquire, observe and comprehend data and brief content, at this third stage the students are drawn into a higher level of thinking about the material. The Level 3 stage in the JiTS process is using the current online material as an evolutionary step in learning the concept that was introduced as a seed.


Understanding the Global Economy:
Topic: The Multinational Corporation
Subtopics/Concepts: FDI, The Global Firm, Alliance Capitalism/ Knowledge Capitalism, Strategies, Wintelism

To encourage higher-order thinking, students are required to do a collaborative research project or are given individual essays.

Example of an essay question: What does John Dunning mean when he talks about knowledge capitalism? How does this affect the paradigm of the multinational firm in the 21st century? How do Dunning's views compare to those of Snow? Who is Michael Porter and what is his contribution to the concept of location of corporations?

Level 4--Analyzing and Synthesizing Alternative Interpretations

This level of the JiTS takes the student to a higher order of thinking--from interpreting to analyzing, and ultimately to synthesizing and perhaps evaluating. "Interpretation" does not stop at level 3; it continues in level 4, but now the instructor is teaching students to develop disciplined, analytic interpretations.


Understanding the Global Economy
Topic: Multinational Corporation

While in level 3 the students were introduced to alternative interpretations, in level 4 the students are encouraged to explore the multinational corporation as a research project. The group is provided a bibliography as well as a webliography of the theories of the multinational firm, as background information for the research project. The project guidelines require the students:

  • to recognize the "family resemblances" among the articles;
  • to illustrate the points of debate among the authors; and
  • to arrive at a synthesis.
Level 4 clearly integrates the print material with current online material, creating a hybrid and rich source of course content that was not available a few years ago.

This example was prepared by Shyamala Raman, Saint Joseph College, West Hartford, Connecticut.

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