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Inside Kendall

Making Personal Connections Across the Globe

BUS Course (1)Becoming a “global citizen” may be a popular concept, but it’s a reality in Cindy McCarthy’s School of Business classes. The core-contributing faculty member has designed her courses to cover concepts design, innovation, and marketing—and deliver directly on the international concept by incorporating students not only from her classroom in Chicago, but also from the École Supérieure du Commerce Extérieur in Paris, Istanbul Bilgi University,Universidad Europa Madrid and BiTS in Germany, which are also part of the Laureate International Universities network. Here, McCarthy shares how the courses increase students’ opportunities to collaborate with people around the world.

Group projects are often tough for anyone. Why did you choose to include this in your courses when significant time differences were a crucial issue?

With the ability to talk globally, shop globally, and travel to remote areas of the world, it is becoming more and more important for our students to think and act globally. We know Millennials are highly connected. According to a 2014 article in Datamentors, 90% of them conduct research online, 67% receive their news online, and 60% receive and send text messages. But this only considers what possibilities our students have at their fingertips—not what they actually do.

BUS Course (2)Many students in this age group find it very hard to connect to people, particularly verbally, if they don’t already know them. Despite this, I realize how valuable it is to break down social and physical barriers. That’s why I built my courses to include this cross-country collaboration through tools they are often already using.

How did you ask your students to collaborate?

Let me start by introducing you to our multinational Kendall class: We had three bachelor’s students from Kendall, five master’s students from Paris, and one from Turkey who were matched with an equally diverse set of students from Spain. On the first day of the course, the students were broken into teams and asked to begin a dialog, starting small by posting videos that could be watched later in a Google+ community.

Next, they were asked to master Glip, a tool that allows them to speak or write to their teammates who were based internationally. What I like about the tool is that it sets up alerts whenever something is posted, which increases collaboration. By the second week of the course, students were actively discussing their projects and exchanging ideas, and ultimately began to work on their market research and crafting their pitches.

BUS Course (4)During the final week, they gave formal presentations of their ideas—and all team members were present, connected through video presentation tools.

How do you keep the international conversation going?

As soon as they finish this project it’s on to the next one, an evaluation of a case study on Sardinia, Italy, to increase tourism for the island. Students in Chicago and Germany collaborate to draft and give three presentations, which are based in Germany. What I like most is that a variety of cross-cultural ideas come together—and the presentations are sent to clients in Sardinia for review, so there are real-world outcomes.

What was the experience like for Kendall students?

After reviewing these projects, all students agreed it was stressful but worth it. They liked learning from others, particularly when their cultural approach to a topic was different. As student Mitchell Koskotas explained, “The most important lesson I learned was to think big. The most memorable moment was meeting new friends, working with international students, and celebrating our successes.”

My students learned valuable skills, including how to negotiate time-zone challenges. They now understand how to work with people they have never met who are based in other countries.

Tell us, what skills do you find most helpful when collaborating with colleagues from around the globe?

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