Coming to a classroom: Ice buckets and pot

Viral philanthropy business model
Viral philanthropy business model

From legal marijuana to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, professors at business schools across the country are reaching for real-life examples to teach old-school business practices in an effort to engage their students and keep up with the times.

For professor Jeff Bergstrand, who teaches philanthropy at Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business, a viral campaign like the Ice Bucket Challenge is the perfect example of how technology can influence business. It's also a great teaching tool.

"As technology—the Internet, mobile phones—have increased in usage exponentially, a lot of this is influencing business school curriculum," he said Tuesday on CNBC's "Power Lunch."

Golfers Justin Rose and Brandt Snedeker take the 'Ice Bucket Challenge' after a practice round prior to The Barclays at The Ridgewood Country Club on Aug. 19, 2014 in Paramus, N.J.
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The Ice Bucket Challenge, where participants dump a bucket of ice water over their heads to raise money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, has turned into a phenomenon. It has raised $22.9 million in the past few weeks for the ALS Association. Last year, the association received $1.9 million during the same time period (July 29 to Aug. 19).

Meanwhile, Sunil Gulati, who teaches Economics 101 at Columbia University and is also president of the United States Soccer Federation, plans to turn to pot and sports as part of his curriculum.

The legalization of marijuana in states like Colorado and Washington has provided a "living laboratory" that will help illustrate the supply and demand analysis, he said on Tuesday's "Power Lunch."

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"We can see what has happened in those states as far as pricing and some tangential effects like the banking industry," he said.

When talking about antitrust and labor issues, Gulati plans on turning to the sports business—using recent cases like the NCAA's labor debate with Northwestern University.

"We have things going on in the world now that make it much more applicable," he said.

Advancement of data mining
Advancement of data mining

Another big change facing MBA students is a shift from studying statistics to business analytics. Notre Dame's program is making that shift to prepare its students to be able to interpret and use the enormous amount of data out there, Bergstrand said

"Statistics historically is about imposing structure upon data that you have. What's really new about data mining and the big data sets is trying to garner information, trying to gather information," he noted.

—By CNBC's Michelle Fox