Teacher: Dr. Fred Ku
Department: Department of Decision Sciences and Managerial Economics, CUHK Business School, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)
To increase global exposure for students, Dr. Fred Ku, Senior Lecturer of the CUHK business school, has been constantly exploring new possibilities for internationalising the curriculum at home via international collaborations. To this end, information and communication technologies provide greater flexibility and opportunities to bring together experts from different places to co-design and co-teach the same course. Dr. Ku’s initiative “Responsible Business – from East to West”, consisting of five online case-based and discussion-based classes, collaborates with overseas partners from Taiwan, Japan, the United Kingdom and Poland. Teachers from partnering institutions were invited to lead a case-based discussion lecture and develop course materials based on their home country’s contexts. Besides, flipped classroom was implemented in this course. In other words, students were required to come to class prepared by studying the case and pre-class materials. During the class discussion, they can share their thoughts about real-life examples and learn from others’ perspectives. The case-based and discussion-based design of the initiative intended to enhance intercultural communication between students. At the end of the course, students were required to complete a capstone group project and the best three teams were subsequently invited to present their work in a virtual symposium joined by teachers and students from all partnering institutions.
To coordinate such an international course, Dr. Ku pointed out that clear and amiable communication with both students and partners was important. It is essential to provide students with a full and explicit explanation of the course design and ask for periodic feedback. “Even though we as teachers may find this new course interesting, students might not necessarily share the same view with us,” said Dr. Ku. As the course design and class schedule were different from ordinary courses, he hoped to provide students with a more comprehensive picture of the course design from the very beginning. This in turn ensured that students’ learning experience would be enhanced. When collaborating with partners, it is important to agree the fundamentals in advance, for instance, class schedule, timeline for preparation of course materials, and copyright issues. “You don’t need to make everything at a stroke,” Dr. Ku remarked. “If you are interested in working with a potential partner, it’s a good idea to start with something with manageable commitment like inviting them to give a guest lecture or developing course material together”.
The course has been launched for two years now and received highly positive feedback from students. Hence, Dr. Ku is eager to take the initiative to the next level by expanding his partnership to Australia, China, Singapore, etc. In the coming year, he is also planning to organise a study tour with existing partnering universities after the virtual classes. “While face-to-face interaction would be difficult to be replaced, online learning can definitely be a perfect complement to enhance students’ overall learning experience,” said Dr. Ku. It is his conviction that the combination of online lectures and an offline study tour can create synergistic effect and provide students with a more holistic learning experience.