Learning and teaching digitally and internationally? An example
Since the beginning of the pandemic almost no international activities like student exchange have taken place. Since travelling and therefore visiting and studying at a university abroad is currently not possible, the professors of the Rhine-Waal University developed an idea on how to „move“ the international student exchange into the digital environment. The idea they’ve come up with is as brilliant as it is easy: students from the partner universities were offered to participate in an online course normally taught at the Rhine-Waal University and containing a digital business start-up simulation.
The Business start-up simulation has been long used in teaching at the Rhine-Waal University as it represents a very practical approach where students have to develop a business idea, create a business plan for it, persuade the investors of the idea in order to get funded, and finally manage their enterprise in a dynamic market environment. So the main goal of the simulation is to help students get some experience in setting-up and running their own company, making difficult business decisions and develop their leadership and communication skills.
The participants of the course are students form five partner universities from Russia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Ghana with whom the Rhine-Waal works together on the two DAAD-funded programmes, the DAAD East Partnerships and DAAD DIES. More than 100 students are participating and competing against the student teams from the other universities.
The course is running entirely online already since November, but its digital format is not taken for granted. The preparations for the course have begun already in May 2020. Though the distance in space appears not to be a problem any more, there are still five different time zones that had to be taken into account. The technical set up of the course was another challenge to overcome. Not only for students but also for lecturers the digital learning formats represent the new environment yet to be studied.
Despite all the challenges the instructors of the partner universities involved in the course already see some positive outcomes. „Over the last weeks, students have increasingly gained confidence in taking their business decisions and implementing their business strategies. Indeed many of the students enjoy this form of online collaboration. And who knows, given these positive experiences, perhaps this online teaching collaboration will even survive the pandemic and be relaunched next year again“, says Prof. Darr, the course coordinator.