Collaborative Learning: our degree in Marketing joins COIL

It has finally happened: COIL has landed in our Marketing degree. It is a new, collaborative learning methodology, which will be gradually extended to the entire university and will bring a fresh dynamic to our classes. It is much more technological, collaborative, experiential and, above all, more international.

To talk about all of this, we approached our professor Francisco Suay, who was one of the first people to join this adventure driven by the Vice-Rectorate for Internationalization!

Francisco Suay teaches in our Marketing and Business Management degrees
Francisco Suay teaches in our Marketing and Business Management degrees

Francisco, tell us what COIL is about and why it is going to be implemented in our Marketing degree.

COIL is an acronym for Collaborative Online International Learning, which is an international, online and collaborative learning methodology. The goal we pursue is no other than to further internationalize our students and we want to do it with a different and much more experiential approach.

We have always promoted international learning in our degree indeed. However, to take part in, for example, Erasmus+ is not always easy. For this reason, we are committed to these dynamics of collaborative work with students from other universities. It will not be necessary to travel anymore, since COIL will work in a shared way through the Internet, by WhatsApp or Skype.

Basically, the primary purpose of these COIL modules is to enable Marketing students to work side by side with peers from other countries. Together, they will have to carry forward a project in English, which is the language of business.

And one of the first COIL modules that is going to be implemented here at CEU Valencia will be integrated into the subject “Marketing Fundamentals”. Why have you chosen this subject to start the COIL initiative?

This subject, taught in the second year, is the students’ first contact with the world of marketing. Currently, one of the paradigms of marketing is globalization and internationalization, as companies operate on a global scale. We wanted to reinforce the idea of internationalization as soon as possible.

“we want our STUDENTS to HAVE AT LEAST ONE COIL module per SEMESTER.”

The subject offers students basic knowledge of marketing, so it was relatively easy to adapt it to a project of the same nature with a foreign university.

You are going to develop the project together with the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, why have you chosen this institution and not other?

We really like the style of AUAS. Furthermore, one of the university’s lecturers is Eva Haug, a specialist in COIL internationalization projects. She is a professional with a lot of experience in the development of these modules, especially with Latin American universities. It was precisely Eva Haug who came to CEU Valencia to help us implement the model, so I immediately started collaborating with her.

Our partner on this first COIL project is the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
Our partner on this first COIL project is the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Together we discussed the possibility of working on cultural stereotypes and their implementation in marketing or of exploring the theme of globalization and, perhaps, on something more related to responsible consumption, which we also tackle in “Marketing Fundamentals”. These two issues are genuinely interesting and we believe that everyone who wants to get involved in marketing must keep them mind.

What COIL is going to require from students

What exactly is the COIL module going to include? What kind of project is awaiting for Marketing students?

The COIL project is going to last approximately eight weeks and we plan to start it in the first weeks of the second semester. In February and March we are going to begin to introduce the contents of the subject and, starting from March, students are going to work on the project in teams of four: two students from CEU Valencia and two from AUAS.

As soon as they choose a theme, either globalization or cultural stereotypes, they are going to be assigned duties. The first and fundamental one is to get acquainted with their Dutch colleagues! It is going to be something as simple and entertaining as making a videoblog or recording a short presentation saying what they like, what motivates them… From that moment, we are going to be working within class timetable or beyond it, and with hours devoted to get support from the teachers. Tasks will be monitored and there will be a final presentation by videoconference.

“the labour market is demanding future leaders with a truly international profile.”

Both the collaboration between students and teachers will be done completely online. It is one of the major advantages of COIL: it is very simple to implement with the existing technologies.

Our faculty is already working on new COIL modules, both in Marketing and Business Management. In the end, ideally, we would like to include one COIL module per semester.

How do you think our students will welcome this new, innovative educational adventure?

I hope they will embrace it! Students become more and more open to innovative learning instead of sticking to typical master classes. Learning by practice, developing projects… The difficulty of working with people who are very far geographically is undeniable, especially if the other university isn’t located in Europe. It is clear that you have to work a little bit harder to coordinate the work. However, this is also a good training for students: this is how work in real life looks like. For example, they might have to import agrifood from Colombia in their future and they will need to accept the time difference. Different schedules, different cultures and different working methods: it is important to learn all of this in your degree.

Moreover, they will have to work in English, the language of business. They will have to make an effort and be aware of both their partner’s level and theirs. Even though talking with a person from a different country and in a foreign language can be at times problematic, it is still an interesting way of learning.

In your opinion, how will the project influence our Faculty of Law, Business and Political Science?

The fundamental thing which is going to change for teachers is their mentality. They need to teach in an innovative way because the market requires it. Nowadays a student who knows how to work in several languages and with people originating from different cultures is more valuable than a student with a brilliant academic record.

Professor Eva Haug, from the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, is our key partner for COIL in Marketing
Professor Eva Haug, from the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, is our key partner for COIL in Marketing

This is going to represent a considerable challenge for the faculty because we will have to change the way we work and evaluate activities. What is more, it will need to be done according to the teacher’s guide, the degree and, obviously, to the skills that a student must acquire.

Moreover, the project will force us to change a lot at a level of contacts. Some of them already exist thanks to the Erasmus+ agreements. The truth is that there is a wide network of partners in an abundant variety of countries so that students can include internationalization in their curriculum. It is a very rewarding challenge, although it involves a lot of work for teachers. It implies a great preparation.

A faculty committed to new teaching methods

Our faculty has been following the path of internationalization for a long time: we have pathways with subjects taught in English, double degree agreements, now COIL… what message are you trying to convey to future graduates in Marketing?

Basically, that the world is dynamic and it keeps moving. This is something stirring because we are witnessing substantial changes. Students have to acquire competencies beyond what is taught in classes, it is what companies require: that the students know how to work in diverse cultural environments, know several languages, be flexible, lead projects… The more aware they are of the reality and the more they practise their skills, the easier it will be for them to enter the job market.

This international element is, in essence, what companies look for. Nowadays, no company operates exclusively in the local market. The market is open and we must teach our students to take advantage of all the opportunities that the business world offers. I have absolutely no doubt that COIL will help them!


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