“German Association or Chinese Emperor?” Building COINs Between China and Germany
This paper describes our experience teaching a distributed virtual course with teams made up by students from China and Germany. It is based on a distributed course about Collaborative Innovation Networks (COINs) which has been successfully taught for the last 12 years to students from Germany, the US, Finland, and Switzerland. In this course, students form teams from different locations and languages, and together complete a complex project analyzing online social media. In 2016–2017, we applied the same course framework to participants from China and Germany. To gather insights from the course, we follow a mixed method study design by analyzing qualitative interviews with course participants and quantitative communication data of course participants. We find that combining members from China and Germany into the same team poses a set of unique intercultural challenges, overcoming language and behavioral differences. We present key lessons learned to inform future courses combining participants from the East and the West.
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