As he took a closer look at the 30- to 40-year-old EMBA students in his classroom, Stephen Kiser quickly understood the importance of content—and its presentation.
“They have been accustomed to being entertained and to having immediate access to everything,” says Kiser, adjunct faculty member in the EMBA and Global Leadership EMBA Programs at the University of Texas at Dallas Naveen Jindal School of Management.
“You have to be entertaining and relevant,” he says. “I work hard to find ways to make the content come alive.”
Kiser often uses recent economic headlines as a way to drive home the value of exploring economic concepts in his Business Economics and Global Business courses. He also shares his experiences from his day job as a regional economist with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
“I try to make sure everything I do is something that is applicable,” he says.
Another powerful path to that end involves Kiser’s use of technology tools.
He initially collaborated with an information technology professor to offer students the visualization tool Power BI. Most recently, he introduced ArchView, a desktop geographic information software system. He combines ArchView with the business intelligence and analytics software Tableau to help students learn how to visualize data and interpret the results through an economic lens.
With big data impacting almost all industries, these high-demand skills can truly benefit EMBA students, says Kiser, and he helps show them how in class.
It’s worked so well that the program has begun to look at incorporating the tools into other courses. “We are going to begin teaching them these tools at orientation,” says Kiser. “We want them to leave the program with key skills in analysis.”
Kiser continues to encourage new boundaries for his students: Recently, students analyzed the economic impact that the emerging technologies of artificial intelligence and virtual reality are having on the health care industry and military training.
He also believes in a less technology-oriented strategy—knowing his students. He talks to students informally and he’ll take what he learns about student interests to keep his material fresh and interesting.
Both students and alumni appreciate the high- and low-tech aspects of his teaching style. The EMBA classes of 2016 and 2018 acknowledged his efforts with a teaching award, and he hosts a well-attended session for alumni on the current U.S. economic outlook.
At the end of the day, he wants to make economics truly meaningful. “If you take students from learning concepts to using economics, we both win.”