Auckland University of Technology (NEW ZEALAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN18 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 9716-9722
ISBN: 978-84-09-02709-5
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2018.2331
Conference name: 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2018
Location: Palma, Spain
This international pedagogical project spanning 15 countries is an example of situated and experiential learning within an academic discipline. The venture, GlobCom, brings together more than 100 senior public relations students from 12 universities in 15 countries across five continents (Australia, Germany, Italy, India, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, UK, United Arab Emirates and the US). This ongoing project started in 2003 and has been set up to work during a three-month-long semester (mid-February to mid-May).

GlobCom uses a problem-based learning approach which reflects a real life situation and real-time challenges. It involves a live industry brief from an international client which requires a competitive and creative communications solution that could be applied to the current world market, developed under real-time challenges by student global virtual teams. Each year the students form eight competitive virtual teams guided by the lecturers in a supervisory virtual team. Every team comprises at least two students from each university so that teams are multinational and work across different geographical locations. Each virtual team has the challenge of innovative problem-solving. At the end of each 12-week project students and lecturers attend a bespoke conference hosted by one of the participating universities. The teams present their proposals to the conference delegates, who comprise the client, industry professionals, lecturers, conference speakers, lecturers and the students. A winner is selected and the students receive feedback from the industry

The supervisory virtual team is comprised of academics from the participating universities who are enthusiasts for global public relations projects and who monitor their own students and liaise with the other lecturers. The collaborative work demanded by GlobCom where students learn how to interact with each other, while sharing and processing information reflects the authentic environment in public relations that relies on team interaction. This virtual team project is both an experiential learning involving students within an academic discipline and for the pedagogical purpose of working in a virtual team as well as an ongoing action research project regarding leadership in virtual teams.

It is arguable that improving team performance would improve student satisfaction and as a result enhance the learning opportunities. This project demonstrates, through ongoing action research, how student multinational virtual teams can be constructed to ensure collaboration. It also recommends team processes to improve participation and introduces a global team leader forum and global team mentor role for supporting team leaders. Furthermore, as a result of the action research, the project identifies specific criteria which can help identify, monitor and coach virtual team leaders to ensure collaborative interactions.
Global virtual teams, pedagogical project, experiential learning, public relations, communications, international, authentic learning, online collaboration.