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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Improvement of Online International Business Education


A phenomenological study conducted in 2010 by Dr. Pimpa from RMIT University in Australia helps in identifying ways to improve online education.  The report argues that online education has immense possibilities for business, management and finance education. There are some needed adjustments that include being selection of materials, integrating programming, using strong platforms, and resource allocation. The purpose of his studies was to explore the issues of engagement in online education with international students. 

The study used a qualitative semi-structured interview format with 27 undergraduate accounting, finance and international business. The small sample has some limitations in larger generalizations but does find potential opportunities to explore in greater depth. The study looked at similarities and differences with students and then used those results to discuss the findings with professionals in the field. 

In general, the results found that the personal backgrounds, experiences, and level of education varied similar to the backgrounds of each student. International business students engaged more often than accounting and finance students. Students related that they connected well to theories and practice. When the examples were related to their own experiences they connected better. Online discussion was a way for them to engage and discuss their understandings. 

The finance students wanted more content related changes. They were taught individual financial models but felt that finance was a collection of models. In this case online discussion helped the students think more about the connection of models and theories. Furthermore, the discussions afforded the opportunity for students to understand the nature and expectations of the course. 

Accounting students preferred an online and face-to-face interactive level of instruction. They stated that their desires were a result of the complex concepts and the necessity for greater understanding. Yet when engage in online interaction the use of case studies and relation of theory to practical brand examples they are familiar with helped them engage and study. 

The ability of students to feel excited about and engaged in their courses was related to the abilities of the instructor in using online education and technology. Students enjoyed the ability to access their educational systems at anytime, access databases, and other instructional tools. They felt that convenience of the educational process was a benefit when they use WI-FI spots throughout the university. 

The cultural aspects of the students seemed to have an impact on their level of online engagement. Asian students that have a more collectivist background liked the ability to openly discuss topics without the fear of losing face in public for putting forward wrong answers or challenging someone. Both Anglo and Asian cultures seemed to enjoy learning about the products, services, and business methods of people overseas. 

Comments:

Online education has some benefits that come with the inherent ability to span time and space in a global market. As companies move to a more multi-national platform and engage in international business it becomes important for students to understand and relate personally to more worldwide through the understandings of their classmates. 

The use of strong online systems requires the ability to take practical examples that are of interest to students and use those examples to teach them about theory and practice. It provides a stronger context for students and greater level of understanding. Furthermore, the strength of an educational system is often based in the ability of the students to interact with each other and the convenience of accessing information quickly.

Pimpa, N. (2010). E-business education: a phenomenographic study of online engagement among accounting, finance and international business students. I-Business, 2 (4).

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