Marketing students at FIU Business digitally crossed the ocean to conduct research alongside students from Poland’s Poznan University of Technology (PUT) as part of the university’s Collaborative Online International Learning program FIU-COIL.
Throughout the semester, students worked on a marketing research project that analyzed small businesses in Poland and Florida, assessing the economic impact from COVID-19 on family-owned businesses.
“They took it to the next level, connecting to the other side of the world,” said Anna Pietraszek, an assistant teaching professor of marketing who applied for a COIL grant through the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at FIU Business. “No student walked away without learning.”
One of the program’s objectives, noted Pietraszek, is for students to build intercultural communication, virtual teamwork and critical thinking skills.
Over the course of six weeks, the 110 participating students worked in 17 international teams, each with three students from FIU and PUT. Every week, team members presented an infographic highlighting their findings to Pietraszek and PUT faculty member Ewa Wiecek-Janka.
Students had to work via Zoom and Google Docs to conduct surveys as well as to prepare and rehearse for their presentations. “They were able to see each other, to get to know different people,” said Pietraszek. “They established a human connection.”
The students found that despite cultural differences, small businesses in both Florida and Poland began to feel the economic impact of the coronavirus at similar rates, yet micro and small businesses in Poland describe their economic condition worse than those in Florida. By contrast, medium and large companies in both places describe comparable results.
This initiative was the first FIU-COIL collaboration with a university in Poland. FIU-COIL uses digital technology to connect students and faculty with their peers across international borders. Projects can be conducted face-to-face, fully online or in hybrid formats. The program is administered by FIU’s Office of Collaborative Online International Learning.