Three-way virtual, global WIL project

Case Studies | Online WIL




Sally Parrott

Sally Parrott, RMIT University, College of Business,

A Virtual Global WIL Project (VGWP) is an innovative pedagogical model for developing global competency and business skills that reflects real-world business practice.

The VGWP brings students from multiple countries and time zones together to solve a real-life business problem for a multi-national client. Students use a range of online business technologies to collaboratively develop a solution according to requirements set by the client. This deep experiential learning experience develops skills in written and verbal global business communications, working in cross cultural teams, running meetings online across multiple time zones, problem-solving, negotiation and reflective practice to improve their global employability.

Website: RMIT Global Learning by Design Pattern (PDF)


Work Integrated Learning On A Global Scale | RMIT University

Three-way Global WIL Project | RMIT University

Full details of 'Three-way virtual, global, work-integrated-learning project'

Length of time the WIL activity has been/was in operation

The VGWP began in 2011 as a two-way project between Kirkwood Community College, USA and RMIT University Australia. From 2011 – 2013 RMIT secured a client with an international marketing problem that would benefit from a combined USA-Australian perspective. In 2014, a third partner, Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT), Ireland, was secured in a third time zone and culture to reflect the way business was operating in global, virtual teams. The first three-way VGWP ran in 2014 with Dundalk Tourism and then in 2015 with Maxol Industries, Ireland. In 2016 the focus was back in Australia solving a problem for the City of Melbourne then in 2017 the project expanded to Vietnam and students worked with Vietnamese company, Neyuh Leather.

Who benefits from the WIL activity (include all relevant stakeholders)?

Partner Institutions receive a scalable, accessible, international WIL experience without the need for travel that improves an educational institutes’ internationalisation targets. Faculty staff receive a range of opportunities to develop their professional and educational skills on a global scale, which are transferable to other areas of their work. The Client report they receive immense benefit from involvement in a VGWP including receiving a broad range of ideas and strategies which are valuable for planning and development and even implementation. The students receive a transformative experience which enhances their employability skills, in particular the skills to operate in global virtual teams, conduct intercultural business communication, working across time zones and use business communication technologies.

How does the WIL activity demonstrate good practice and/or innovation?

The VGWP provides an authentic learning experience which encourages students to learn through the exploration of concepts that involve relevant and real-world problems and projects (Donovan et. al 1999).  The VGWP simulates how global business is operating and such real-life experiences are said to stimulate higher order thinking processes and active learning strategies (Newmann and Wehlage 1993). The VGWP is ever-evolving with new communication technologies providing new opportunities such as using hangouts for video reflections, Canva to collaborate on infographics, Trello to manage team communications and YouTube Live for streaming meetings. Innovative utilisation of technologies not only updates skills but enables greater accessibility and scalability each time.

How adaptable is the WIL activity to other disciplines, sectors, teaching practices etc?

The VGWP has been delivered in a single discipline area, across multiple disciplines, in vocational education and undergraduate degrees and even in a postgraduate EMBA program. It has been utilised for accreditation requirements, faculty professional development, student capstone projects and internal training. It is a flexible model that can be adapted to multiple cohorts, countries and fields of education.

How sustainable is the WIL activity beyond its immediate implementation?

The VGWP’s greatest strength is its flexibility and sustainability. As it is primarily an online project based WIL model it is not constrained by the need for room bookings, physical attendance, travel, site visits or expensive equipment.  The greatest resource it requires is time. The VGWP can run for a one week intensive or an entire semester or year. It can be applied to a single class or, with careful management, an entire course cohort.

How is the success of the WIL activity evaluated?

The VGWP is evaluated following an action learning cycle.  All stakeholders contribute to the evaluation.  The client provides feedback in post presentation interviews. Faculty staff meet weekly to discuss progress and project outcomes. At the end of the VGWP, academics hold an evaluation meeting with suggestions fed back as continuous improvement into the next delivery. Students complete surveys  to capture quantitative and qualitative feedback. Students also complete three reflections pre-during-post VGWP.  Additionally, the VGWP has been presented as a model at national and international conferences, is currently being considered in a book on global perspectives and is the case study for a Higher Degree by Research.

What are the wider impacts of the WL activity beyond completion?

A VGWP improves students’ employability as understanding how to, and having the skills to, communicate and work effectively in global virtual teams is vital for the future of business graduates’ employability (Davies et al., 2011). Global industry partnerships can be developed through a VGWP with potential for relationships to expand into student placements, industry training or research. A VGWP can help institutes achieve internationalisation goals, particularly those which require addressing diversity, access and equity to international work based learning experiences. A VGWP can be an international calling card, showcasing an institutes’ students, abilities and expertise to a global audience which can increase international profile for enrolments and collaborations.

How does the WIL activity approach the preparation, implementation and reflection phases of WIL?

Virtual Global WIL projects require extensive preparation and planning (see ‘planning ladder’ in Appendix 1) and critical success factors include:

  • Identifying partner institutions (considering academic calendars, curriculum, assessment, language, IT) and selecting a suitable client organisation
  • Coordinating/negotiating curriculum, assessment, instructions, expectations
  • Selecting the most appropriate communications technology and supporting teaching staff and students in its use
  • Ensuring motivation and commitment from teaching staff (out-of-hours communication, heavier workload etc.)
  • Providing strong teacher support for students in all cohorts.
  • — Providing support resources, such as guidelines on intercultural communication, cultural sensitivities, working in virtual teams, etc.

What are the learning outcomes of the WIL activity and how do they link to graduate attributes?

The learning outcomes of the VGWP links directly to the RMIT graduate attributes of being work-ready, global in outlook and competence, culturally and socially aware, active and lifelong learners and innovative. As one RMIT participant reflected, “I have learnt how to manage people in 3 different time zones, how to work in a team more efficiently and effectively and how to more effectively use technology on a business scale.”. This taps directly into the two dominant themes in education: (i) preparing young people for the global economy and (ii) developing their global social awareness and capacities reported at the Global Citizenship Symposium in Australia (IEAA 2014).

What are the plans for the WIL activity in the future?

The VGWP is growing in popularity as a WIL activity where it has been applied in numerous disciplines and across five institutes and four countries. The model has been showcased at national and international conferences (EAIA 2016, COIL 2016, AIEC 2016) with many interested parties requesting resources to explore possibilities of applications in their institutions.  It is envisaged that with continued dissemination of the VGWP, that support and consequently uptake of this model will increase. Interest may also increase once findings from research currently being conducted on the effectiveness of VGWP’s for improving tertiary business graduates’ intercultural communication skills is published.

Appendix 1

Planning ladder for a Virtual Global WIL Project

Appendix 2

RMIT VGWP Google Site with support resources

RMIT VGWP Google Site with support resources

More pics

Virtual Global WlL Project 2016 international teams post client presentations at RMIT

Global WIL 2015 international team with client Moreish by Maxol (Ireland)

Global WIL 2014 winners Dundalk Tourism campaign and (right) Getting ready to present to client in Ireland