Faculty Experiences - Pedro Santa Clara

Pedro Santa-Clara - photoPEDRO SANTA-CLARA

Anderson School of Management

Interview Topics

What matters most to you in your teaching?

How are you using technology as a tool to achieve your teaching goals?

How have your students responded to your use of technology?

What new goals do you have for using technology in teaching?


Exercises & assignments

Review materials

Student presentations

Work with real data


Class web site

Discussion board

Online lectures

PowerPoint (software)


Establishing a Connection With Students

The most important thing for me is to communicate with the students, to establish a connection with the students, to get them excited about what we are learning and eager to learn more.

I do this a variety of ways. I believe in using different methods to teach. My class is a combination of lectures, student presentations, homework, and case studies. Hopefully at the end of the day, the students will have a complete understanding of the subject.

I teach finance and an investment class. Parts of the class require knowing math and getting their hands dirty with data. We try to tie in real life situations that bring together the data.

I do not use anything in terms of technology that is fancy. I have a reasonably good class web site for the class. Students can access the syllabus and get all the assignments and readings by downloading them online. I have found the discussion board to be really useful. The students are able to post their questions, and I am able to post the answer. Everyone in the class can benefit from one student's question as it may apply to other's inquiries. They can always go back and review these questions and answers. I also post my lecture notes on the class web site for students to review.

I actually used to videotape my lectures. It was surprisingly hard to set up and that is why I discontinued this service. My assistant would do the taping, and I was lucky because he was knowledgeable of the technology. However, we ran into hurdles--some as simple as not having enough storage space to hold these files. It was a little amateurish as well. If you just have a still camera position and one has PowerPoint slides, viewers will not get clean shots of the material. It is of limited use. Despite my efforts, I think taping lectures has huge potential. Theoretically, we can broadcast to anyone in the world--alumni, internationally, extension courses, other students at other universities, etc. But it has to be done professionally like a live talk show you see on television. You will need more than one camera and there is a need to get good sound quality. Sound is very important. The lighting is also important. There has to be a way to synchronize the PowerPoint presentation with the lecture. I have seen better attempts than mine. Specifically at Stanford University they produce a lot of their taped lectures for on line viewing in the same classroom that has the video equipment and set up to produce clean looking broadcasts. I think this is an incredible opportunity.

We teach our MBA classes here at Anderson and the classes have very good equipment like the amphitheaters, computer lab, etc. For the MBA program, the students are required to have a laptop. Nearly all of my assignments require the use of a computer. Most students bring their laptop to class.

Students have responded well to the class. They are excited enough to spend a lot of time on a tough course. I actually have students use data and spreadsheets that we help build as opposed to relying heavily on proprietary software. I like using simulations to explain abstract concepts.

As I mentioned before, I can see in the future the chance to make really entertaining lectures and taping them to put on the web for a wider audience. You can have a world wide audience that takes the class online and perhaps teach a class to say five thousand students. This is where UCLA has an advantage in that we are located so close to Hollywood. A partnership with the entertainment industry could give UCLA a way to produce high quality, polished lectures for a mass audience.

Oral Interview, April 23, 2003