FIU Business enhances international education experience with COIL projects.

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Furthering its mission of encouraging global collaboration, FIU Business partners with various universities around the world to work collectively on virtual learning projects, Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL).

In fall 2022, students of the Business Statistics and Analysis class taught by Gladys Simpson, assistant teaching professor of information systems and business analytics, were paired with counterparts at the Universidad Católica del Maule in Chile.

Their challenge: using data analytics to explore perceived gender differences in business professionals.

“Language was a barrier at first, but the students were very creative in finding a solution,” said Simpson.

The undergraduate students discovered that some web-based platforms allowed them to chat in real-time while translating their conversations with subtitles. With communication tools in place, they focused on the work.

“We found that there seemed to be more gender inequality in Chile when it came to employment,” said Nicole Rivera, an FIU Business junior studying marketing. “It was a wonderful experience to collaborate with others, generate accurate results and ultimately analyze these results.”

The programs, part of the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at FIU Business, are developed by faculty leads who then let the students take over with their own approach to the project.

FIU Business faculty and students have participated in 15 COIL projects, partnering with 12 institutions in 12 countries since the program was adopted in 2017. The virtual exchange of ideas has impacted more than 600 FIU Business students and over 500 students abroad, giving them a unique international perspective right at home.

“I think this type of project helps us open our minds to the world and not stay in one way of doing things,” said Yelithsa Solis, an FIU Business junior majoring in international business and finance. “We all have something to learn from other people, the world is too big to stay in one place.”

Wendy Guess, COIL faculty fellow at FIU Business, explained that these projects are baked into her curriculum for undergraduate students.

“This is a great experience for the global workforce,” said Guess, associate teaching professor of marketing. “To get to practice these interactions in a virtual setting is invaluable.”

The students in Guess’s class were paired with those at the Symbiosis Institute of Business Management near Delhi in India. To gain a better understanding of international marketing, they were tasked with analyzing ads and creating a checklist to help multinational companies develop culturally sensitive ads that can be used in different markets.

“Developing trust, developing rapport, those are the things that were coming out of the checklist,” said Guess. “You never know what may be impacting your business deal.”

For students, the chance to put their newly learned skills to the test is rewarding, but to connect and engage with other peers across the globe is an experience they may never forget.

“I think that respect is my biggest take-away,” said Solis. “The fact that our group has respected each other was important because it made us have patience and allowed us to listen to everyone's ideas and thus be able to develop a job that I believe was good.”