During the spring semester, 15 second-year MBA students are participating in a book club led by Professor of Management Ram Baliga. Professor Baliga and the students are using Kindle Fire tablet computers, each loaded with copies of eight notable, current business books selected by Professor Baliga. The ZSR Library has loaned the Kindles and Kindle copies of the books to the members of the book club.
Professor Baliga, whose strategy courses are among the most popular at the School of Business, has organized a book club for MBA students several times over the years. However, past book club members could access the selected books only by borrowing them for two-hour intervals from the course reserve desk in the Worrell Professional Center Library.
The new method of providing the books has proven to be popular with both Professor Baliga and the students and has helped motivate the students to complete the readings on schedule. After the first meeting of the book club, Professor Baliga commented, “I could tell that the students in this group were more motivated than students in previous groups, and I would attribute that to the convenience of having the Kindles and all the books available to them 24/7. In the past, it was always an obstacle for the students to have to read the books in the library.”
The students are equally enthusiastic about the book club and their borrowed Kindles:
Book club member Christina Timm commented, “The Kindle donated by ZSR makes having a book club very easy. Each member was given one which allows us to read on our own time.”
“The book club is one of the best offerings in the MBA program,” stated Ryan Lesley. “It’s a no-pressure environment to sit around with some amazing minds and put our education to use in these discussions.”
Even though they do not receive course credit and a grade for participating in the book club, Alex Aleman notes, “The incentive to fully prepare is just as high in our book club as it would be for an actual class, if not more so.”
These are the eight books on the reading list of the book club:
- The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone
- How Asia Works: Success and Failure in the World’s Most Dynamic Region by Joe Studwell
- Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier
- After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead by Alan Blinder
- Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- The End of Competitive Advantage by Rita Gunther McGrath
- Not Exactly: In Praise of Vagueness by Kees Van Deemter
- Obliquity: Why Our Goals are Best Achieved Indirectly by John Kay
In addition to reading these books, the students may use the Kindle Fires to access other resources, such as their WFU and personal email accounts, their Wall Street Journal subscriptions and the Internet. The MBA book club experiment may foreshadow a time when students will use tablets not only for personal reading but for their course readings as well. As tablet computers play an increasingly important role in our lives, figuring out the logistics of using them for course readings seems like a good idea.
After the semester, the Kindles will be available for other uses. Contact Bob or Mary for more info.