Virtual team learning enhances cultural exchange

Karen Lai

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With his thought-provoking discussion on cross-cultural collaboration and virtual learning, Professor Douglas Vogel, Chair Professor of Information Systems, gave his audience much to consider at his professorial inaugural lecture in the Wei Hing Theatre on 5 December.

 

Professor Vogel believes that our work or learning environment is a multi-cultural space, not a place. The learning environment has changed with the advancement of technology support such as audio conferencing, video conferencing, Internet, ISDN, and various group support systems. Drawing on his more than 10 years' work with virtual teams and the experience he has gained from the virtual collaborative programme he initiated in 1998 between faculty and students from CityU and universities in the Netherlands , France and several other European countries, Professor Vogel illustrated how virtual teams could work effectively across distance, time zones and organizational boundaries.

 

Virtual team learning can achieve cross-cultural exchange in a wider scope than on-campus exchange programmes or interaction provided by student hostels. "Cross-cultural experience is for all, not just a few. By providing opportunities for students to engage in virtual team learning, we can help them get out of their traditional education environment," said Professor Vogel. The future of such programmes represents a challenge, he said, with the advancement of mobile e-learning tools creating another dimension for global virtual learning.

 

The former president of an electronic engineering company, Professor Vogel returned to academia and the field of management information systems when he realized that the computer technology then available could not solve the problems his company faced. In 1986, he gained his PhD in Business Administration from the University of Minnesota , where he was also research coordinator for the MIS Research Centre. With his research focus on group support technology in enterprises and educational systems, he has been ranked third in a report on top researchers in group support systems, and tenth in a worldwide list of top researchers in management information systems.


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