Academic journal article Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge

"Two Markets, Two Universities": An Experimental, Cross-Cultural, and Cross-Institutional Course Using Online Educational Technologies

Academic journal article Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge

"Two Markets, Two Universities": An Experimental, Cross-Cultural, and Cross-Institutional Course Using Online Educational Technologies

Article excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

Developing curricula for today's business students can be daunting. Change seems to be at "warp speed," brought about by technological developments, innovation and globalization. Business schools are faced with the challenge of preparing students to confront this seemingly ever changing world. The College of Management at the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston) and the University of Pannonia in Veszprem, Hungary, added a new dimension to their business curriculum designed to make their students more competitive in the global business environment.

"Two Markets, Two Universities," an English Language course, used the latest course delivery technology to take business education and student exchange programs to a new level as a vehicle to introduce students to the global business environment. Using Blackboard Vista[TM], combined with bisynchronous and other collaborative technology, the course had students from UMass Boston and from the University of Pannonia in Veszprem, Hungary working collaboratively in an online course. The course was initiated by Dr. Edward Romar and was an outgrowth of his Spring 2009 Fulbright Scholarship teaching marketing at the University of Pannonia.

In the contemporary global business environment it is not unusual for business professionals to work in cross-cultural teams across several time zones. This is a managerial challenge and one in which workers must manage effectively if they are to meet their performance objectives. This challenge also provides opportunities for business schools to enhance their curricula to make their programs and graduates more competitive. Walker and Jeurissen suggest:

   The continuing trends toward globalization
   of business and cultural
   diversity within the work-place
   present challenges for the modern
   manager as well as opportunities
   for educators to address. For the
   delivery of business education the
   message is clear: managers of the
   future need to understand these
   trends in order to cope effectively
   with the pressures of the global
   marketplace. (2003, p. 113)

Similarly, Robyn Mackillop adds:

   A good online business course
   needs to be relevant to current industry
   business practices and rigorous
   in teaching students what
   the workplace will expect ... Students
   must learn about business
   concepts, and skills such as interpersonal
   communications, critical
   thinking, decision making and
   problem solving. (2010, p. 49)

Furthermore, Barr and Tagg argue for a paradigm shift in favor of the creation of a learning environment in higher education:

   In the Learning Paradigm ..., a college's
   purpose is not to transfer
   knowledge but to create environments
   and experiences that bring
   students to discover and construct
   knowledge for themselves, to
   make students members of communities
   of learners that make discoveries
   and solve problems. (1995,
   p 4, boldfaces in the original)

II. THE COURSE, "TWO MARKETS, TWO UNIVERSITIES"

Using marketing as the course content, the overarching goal of the "Two Markets, Two Universities" course was designed to stimulate a learning community and to simulate a global workplace environment. While the course implemented several pedagogies, the primary objective was a self-directed collaborative effort to learn about different cultures and business climates through the development of a marketing plan based upon real companies with a business objective to enter either the US or Hungarian markets. Students were divided into cross-cultural teams with the responsibility to prepare a marketing plan for one company and were instructed to act as members of a team from a prestigious consulting firm.

Edward Romar identified US companies looking to expand into the Hungarian market and willing to act as project case material through contact with the Small Business Development Center at UMass Boston and the Massachusetts Export Center, both funded by the United States Small Business Administration. …

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