Marketing students at RMIT Vietnam have taken part in a global project that involved collaborating with students in Amsterdam.
RMIT Vietnam's Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) project engaged the students with a group of their peers from outside Vietnam, with the overall aim of improving intercultural competence – a highly sought-after skill by multi-national employers.
The group connected with 30 finance and economics students from the Amsterdam University of Applied Science.
RMIT Vietnam Centre of Commerce and Management Lecturer Jis Kuruvilla said the project was a chance to bring the outside world into student learning, and deliver on one of RMIT’s strategic visions: to develop a student’s ‘global passport’.
Connecting initially via Facebook, participants were given a real-life marketing task where they were asked to learn as much as they could about their contemporaries in Holland, and then, based on the consumer profiles they had built up, present a product they thought would improve the lives of their Dutch peers.
They did this via a two-week ‘selfie challenge’ – sending pictures about their daily lives to each other – and through a questionnaire and finally a face-to-face interview.
“When the students organised our first face-to-face group Skype chat, there was a real element of anticipation in the room,” Kuruvilla said.
“The students had a lot of questions for each other and were very excited to embark on the journey.
“RMIT Vietnam students are naturally very curious to know what goes on in other parts of the world, and rather than hear it from their teacher or read about it in a case study, COIL brings a global learning experience into the classroom.”
Underlining the project’s value, Kuruvilla highlighted the ability for students to talk about the experience with potential employers.
“I think this type of project is something that recruiters are looking at – the ability for students to perform in a cross-cultural setting. It enhances their employment skills,” she said.
In addition, students enrolling in the voluntary project all undergo a Personal Edge+ workshop, for which they receive a certification to include in their graduating portfolio.
Participating RMIT Vietnam students Jihyeon Kwon and Hai Pham Nguyen – both studying Logistics and Supply Chain Management – each recommended COIL, with Hai explaining that his presentation of a Vietnamese product had sparked more than just a superficial interest from his new friends in Holland.
“They were really interested,” he said, “they even offered me a business opportunity if I want it in the future!”
“What’s important though,” he continued, “is that I learned a lot about how to adapt, live in, work in, and enjoy different cultures.”
Story: Jon Aspin