Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Performance Benefits of Online Global Management Education

artwork Murad Abel

Global education is rising as students now work in varying countries and capacities not seen a few decades ago. Researchers Taras, et. al (2013) studied online international education have come to some conclusions about its success. They used experiential learning theory, social learning theory, and intergroup contact theory to effectively determine the success of virtual classrooms across borders. They evaluated the management education based upon reactions, learning, attitudes, behaviors, and performance. Their findings indicate that global online management has great potential. 

Business schools are not yet meeting challenges to develop global managers at a sufficient level for businesses. Schools do offer some international education in terms of case studies, videos, and other possible indirect interactions with international students. These are not yet adequate to meeting modern challenges and online international groups may be more effective for higher education. 

Global virtual teams are geographically dispersed teams that use the Internet communication methods to collaborate on common goals. Videos, chat functions, forums, etc. are part of the process of engaging in this international forum approach. Students interact through mediated classrooms that are run by professors. With modern technology the use of online classrooms in international education is cheaper and more effective than traditional methods.

The study relies on three major theories of learning and group interaction. Experiential Learning Theory is defined as a “holistic integrative perspective on learning that combines experience, cognition, and behavior” (Kolb, 1984). Social Learning Theory occurs when people interact they naturally learn from each other’s preferences and start making connections in behavior and culture (Maznevski and DiStefano, 2000). Intergroup Contact Theory occurs when groups live in isolation with each other and create prejudice, bias and conflict (Brameld, 1946).

The researchers studied 6,000 students from 80 universities in 43 countries to determine their results. They found that cultural intelligence, problem understanding, course examination grades, project assessment, and reduction in perceived differences improved. Students came to not only improve upon their coursework and learning but also upon their perception of others. The complexity of their thinking also increased thereby creating cognitive benefits. 

Comment: Even though online learning is different than face-to-face interaction there are many parallels and similarities. The interaction of students in collaborative international teams helps to better prepare them for global competition while raising their learning. Universities and corporations can learn to hedge and use online international education to raise their business learning and problem-solving skills. The market is likely to grasp this beneficial and cost-effective method of staying in competition.

Brameld, T. (1946). Minority problems in the public schools. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Maznevski, M. & DiStefano, J. (2000). Global leaders are team players: developing global leaders through membership in global teams. Human Resource Management, 4.

Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential Learning. Englewood Cliffs. NJ: Prentice Hall.

Taras, et. al. (2013). A global classroom? Evaluating the effectiveness of global virtual collaboration as a teaching tool in management education. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 12 (9).

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