Atlas Black: The Complete Adventure Believe it or not; I've learnt an awful lot from reading comic books in my time. 'V For Vendetta' has taught me that politics can be very bad for your health. 'The Dark Knight Returns' has taught me that hitting people over the head with a television set is a cleaver form of self defense. And 'Watchmen' has taught me how to spell 'Hrrrn'. Yeah. No word of a lie. My mate PhD buddy, Jeremy, agrees with me one hundred percent. Just check out this conversation we had only the other day, whilst dissecting the meaning of 'Maux'.

Atlas Black: The Complete Adventure (Flat World Knowledge Graphic Novels)

1) What are your own origins, Jeremy? Plus what path did you take in life to get to where you are today?   I’m originally from Texas, so I think that shaped my independent spirit and nature quite a bit. I think it all started when I was five and I wanted to be a one-man band. My next goal was to be a jazz guitar player and then singer songwriter. At some point I took a class in psychology, and what really intrigued me was the idea of the applied psychology in work activities. And I found out that this kind of study was found a lot in the study of management.

PreacherSomehow, through all this, I ended up as a management professor that studies entrepreneurship, applied psychology, and strategic management. I was frustrated that students liked the material in class but often distained the textbooks, so I was encouraged to create something new and different and a graphic novel textbook on management was born. Since then I’ve worked to take some of those graphic elements and incorporate them into traditional textbooks.

2) What prompted you to conduct a study to find out that graphic novels are more effective than traditional textbooks?   I had developed a few graphic novels and when discussing the ideas with a number of business professors (who can be pretty slow to adopt new ideas), I encountered many a sideways glance. So, at some point I thought to myself, I can do a rigorous study on this idea, and finally put the debate on this topic to rest.

There has been some work in this general area, but our study is the first to directly compare graphic novels to textbooks on key learning outcomes. 

3) In your own opinion, what would you say was the most surprising facts you discovered via your study?   It was a little surprising that verbatim recall was better using graphic novels when compared to traditional texts. But I would say the most surprising part of the study is that more than 80% of business students – who have been very trained through years to get all of their education from traditional textbooks – thought the graphic novels were as good or superior to traditional textbooks.

4) How did you transpose your ‘study’ into you’re ‘course’? Plus how is it accredited?   The course is based on two textbooks I co-authored. The first was the graphic novel, 'Atlas Black: The Complete Adventure'. The second is a traditional textbook (although we did incorporate a lot of visual elements) on Principles of Management.

University of Oklahoma
Our course is under the umbrella accreditation held by the 'University of Oklahoma', as well as the accreditation of the College of Business by the AACSB (the largest accreditation agency for colleges of business worldwide). Enrolled students at the University of Oklahoma that pay for the class receive course credit like any other class. But anyone in the world can take the free version, although no credit is given for that version. The content of the course is exactly the same. The class begins June 10 and interested individuals can enroll at the website we developed for the class.

The nice thing about the class is that we use the graphic novel as well as traditional textbook, so anyone can take the class and see how their experience is similar to or different from the general findings of our research.

5) If ‘MOOC’ was a piece of music, what would it be and why?   Built to Spill’s song ‘Conventional Wisdom’. In fact, we quote a bit of the song in the graphic novel we use in the class when they say, “Some things you can't explain. Like why were all embracing conventional wisdom in a world that's just so unconventional".

Also, this sentiment is very fitting in the class as well. We explain insights from management that may not be conventional wisdom that are of use to a broad audience. And, we do so in an unconventional manner that we have seen some folks embrace and others show great skepticism toward.

6) If you could get any celebrity – either living or dead – to promote your course, who would you get, and why would you want to choose this particular person?   Definitely Bono -- and for quite a few reasons -- he is the embodiment of effective management. First, he has successfully managed to keep U2 together for years, managing the different egos of band members is similar to herding cats. In addition to this, he has served many other roles demonstrating his ability to manage work/life issues and effectively juggle many roles.

One of the things we will do in the class is engage in social / service learning that helps others, and Bono has been a huge advocate in that area too. 

Maybe he’ll read this interview and enroll for the class. Bono, if you’re out there I’ll send you a book.

7) How would you sum up ‘MOOC’ to a ‘regular Joe’?   A free online university level class, taught by a research professor with a Ph.D., that helps you manage everything from communications to relationships to businesses that uses both a traditional and graphic novel textbook. Everyone will be accepted into the class without requirements or prejudice.

8) What type of person would benefit the most from enrolling onto your course? And why do you think this?   I think the kind of person who would benefit the most is someone interest in managing their relationships, their time, or others they encounter better. Given the unique approach I take in the class, I think someone who might be resistant to traditional business classes might be more interested given the integration of the graphic novel format. So, entrepreneurs who have started their own business, but haven’t had the time to take formal business classes, would get a lot out of this class I think.

Ambition Poster
I think part of why I have been so passionate about creating a MOOC for this class is because I believe it’s something that truly everyone on the planet can get something out of, because we all deal with elements in our life that need management.

9) If your ‘MOOC’ had a motto, what would it be?   Let me preface my answer by saying that the motivation for teaching a free online class is that I believe I have information that is valuable to everyone, in all walks of life, to manage things better so they can live a happier, more full life. And I want to help people with that, if I can. So, I would say my motto would be...

“A graphic approach, with no strings attached, to better manage the world where you life.”

Ka-Pow!!!! Thanks for that, Jeremy. I'm sure after reading that, all of my readers will strip but-naked and rush off to University of Oklahoma poste haste. Or alternatively, they could click on the links provided and enroll today. So go on, folks! What are you waiting for? It's either strip or click!

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