Teacher: Dr. Jenny TIAN
Department: School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)
The Collaborative Hospitality Education Experience & Research (CHEER) project is an online collaboration course between CUHK and the Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration since 2016. Dr. Jenny Tian, senior lecturer from the School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM) of CUHK, designed the CHEER project for the course HTMG3020 Hospitality Organizational Behavior. The project was later extended to include HTMG3010 Management of Lodging Facilities taught by Ms. Gentiana Cheung, also from SHTM. Through this real-world problem solving project, senior students from the two universities have the opportunity to work together to solve a variety of problems faced by the hospitality industry.
Different types of online collaboration tools such as MURAL have been implemented to keep students engaged in class. CUHK and Boston University students could complete the in-class tasks on MURAL simultaneously and contribute new ideas afterward. Moreover, they would have a project-end presentation on Zoom. From the students’ feedback collected, Dr. Tian observed that students’ perception of the course is greatly affected by their personalities. “Students who are good at taking initiative appreciate the project more. They are eager to make friends and willing to work with oversea partners,” Dr. Tian remarked. On the other hand, passive students might find the course too demanding.
During the pandemic, Dr. Tian has moved all the class activities online. Instead of sending students out to interview hotel employees (as required by the CHEER project before the pandemic), Dr Tian and her BU partner interviewed the hotel managers and posted the interview videos online. Students were required to complete the group work assignment by watching the videos and having Zoom meetings once a week. In the project-end feedback survey, some students reported that it was challenging to arrange Zoom meetings because of the time difference between Hong Kong and Boston. Dr. Tian reflected that it might help in the future to monitor students’ teamwork processes on a regular basis to ensure effective team communication.
When asked about the essential parts of successful international collaboration, Dr. Tian highlighted such factors as partner commitment and careful planning. To enhance students’ learning experience, it is also important to set crystal clear expectations for the students. “Students want to know how much effort they need to put in. With a detailed class schedule, they can understand what is expected from them,” said Dr. Tian. Moreover, she suggested delivering the course messages through multiple channels including email and Google Drive for better communication.
Team collaboration on the MURAL platform: