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By Brian Crespo – News Editor

This spring, RBS students will be given the chance to structure their own courses. The initiative, led by CARLab at Rutgers Business School, is titled appropriately, “Build Your Own Course” (or BYOC, for short). It offers 1-credit courses that focus on a particular subject in an emerging field, such as AI in Accounting and Audit, Cloud Computing, Blockchain, and Cryptocurrencies, and Business Process Automation.  There are six courses in total, each with an extensive list of modules to choose from. Students will be required to take one module related to the emphasis of the course (for example, Basics of Continuing Auditing is the required module for BYOC1: Continuous Business Monitoring), and free to choose the other 4 modules. 5 modules, 1 required and 4 chosen, complete the course and fulfill the credit.

This one-credit allocation is a feature, not a bug. Students will be able to ‘scale’ their learning by stacking courses together. Three courses, or 15 modules in total, equate to the typical 3 credit class. Students with a tight spring schedule can elect for just two courses, or even one. Conversely, ambitious students will be able to take all 6 courses, covering a total of 30 modules.  

This presents an interesting question, though. If students can choose to focus on different modules, will they all be given the same final exam?

“The assessments are basically tied up to the modules that each student selects,” says Hussein Issa, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor in the Accounting & Information Systems department. “In other words, the selected modules determine the nature of the assessment for each student.”

The future focus of these courses, and of their corresponding modules, signals RBS’ commitment to tackling a rapidly changing business environment. Outside of purely professional implications, the relevancy of these courses will also attract students. The BYOC4 course offers modules on blockchain (“What is that?”) and cryptocurrencies (“Bitcoin? Is that, like, online money?’”. A curious student may find the 5-module ceiling to be a limitation.

The courses are taught asynchronously, and students will be responsible for pacing themselves through the semester.  A demo version featuring a few modules is available online for RBS students, consisting of short videos and 3-question quizzes.  Amusingly, at least for the Robotic Process Automation lesson, the video remains when the quiz launches, allowing students to rewind and search for answers at their leisure. (Readers will keep in mind that this a simply a demo, and actual exams given for the course will likely not be as accommodating.)

The investment to a flexible approach bodes well after an especially uncertain year. Although advertising for the program started somewhat late, Issa remains optimistic. Student enrollment numbers and feedback for the Spring 2021 semester should help to polish the program in the fall, making it even better.

He said proudly, “I strongly believe that it will benefit the students through customized learning as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach.”