Today’s global business environment runs on both international collaboration and virtual interaction. This means that, to be successful, businesspeople must be both internationally aware and digitally literate.
Business school accreditation standards reflect these realities and the job market also demands that in Business graduates hold a sufficient base of international experiences. These experiences include study programs abroad, dual degrees, and visiting lecturers. However, these face-to-face international learning opportunities can be prohibitively expensive for institutes of higher education in the developing world. Therefore, in 2019, CLADEA, the Latin American Council of Management Schools began developing a solution to provide opportunities for virtual internationalisation to its 254 member institutions in the form of the CLADEA COIL Ecosystem, which is set to include multiple ways for professors and Business students to engage in collaborative online international learning.
THE LINK CLASS PROGRAM
CLADEA COIL’s first official program, the Link Class Program, provides professors with the opportunity to give or receive a guest lecture, called a “Link Class,” from another professor at a CLADEA member institution in another country, via videoconference.
The Link Class Program was chosen as CLADEA COIL’s first program, due to its agility and relative ease of implementation. Once professors from CLADEA member institutions sign up for the program, CLADEA generates the match: seeking a sending and receiving professor who speaks the same language, teaches at the same level (undergraduate or postgraduate), and is interested in the same field. It then coordinates with the presenting and receiving professors on an individual basis regarding the day and time of the class. Once an agreement is reached, CLADEA provides the two professors with the videoconference link and each professor’s contact information, as well as materials on digital teaching methodology. Opportunities for technological training are also provided.
A BENEFICIAL ENVIRONMENT
In last year’s pilot “Link Class 2019” program, which ran from late August through early December, over twenty hours of Link Classes were received by over 350 end users. Participants came from CLADEA member institutions in four different countries: Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Mexico. So far in 2020, numerous Link Classes have already taken place, because the context of the COVID-19 pandemic does not interfere with this format of digital internationalisation in the classroom, as it does with face-to-face internationalisation programs. Undergraduate and graduate-level professors from over 20 universities in 10 different nations in Latin America and Europe, have signed up to participate, and 100% of those who have successfully participated in Link Classes have indicated that their Link Class experience was beneficial, their students profited from the Link Class experience, and that they would like to continue to participate in the Link Class Program in the future. Similarly, 80% of participating students have indicated that they believe other students at their universities would profit from a Link Class experience. EG