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Mar 05, 2021 | School of Business

Developing an interactive online experience – learnings from the first virtual Preparatory Seminar in history

While all four International Student Projects faced considerable technical and planning challenges, the online format also brought advantages with speakers from across the world able to call in to share their insights.

Joint Article written by the International Student Projects Insight China, Focus India, connectUS and exploreASEAN.

The current pandemic is still ongoing and limits all of us in our day-to-day activities. So also, the yearly, normally personal held, Preparatory Seminar. Suddenly, we faced a new challenge that needed a joint effort of the project as well as the communication teams. How can we assure the same amount of interaction among the group and how can we create interest for our students and speakers? The Preparatory Seminar has its tradition to end with the career fair. This is especially important for the students to network and to potentially talk to future employers. Can this be done virtually too?

Virtual collaboration

At first, all the teams needed to rethink and reorganize the whole week. The Preparatory Seminar Managers Svenja Schott, Jessica Kibui, Nuria Brüngger, and Michelle Kalousek met every Monday to coordinate their activities and develop new solutions.

Certainly, everyone began with the same starting point, the platform. It needed to allow for interaction and a center point for the groups to meet. After one year of online schooling, various programs had been used and several had their favourites. Therefore, three of the projects used MS Teams whereas Focus India decided on Zoom. But there were additional challenges, which is why Jessica Kibui, from Focus India, recommends doing a risk analysis in advance to identify potential risk beforehand and prepare counteractions. More, she mentioned that technology has been an unprecedented risk. Even though there were trial runs, it was impossible to predict whether everything would work during the seminar. Insight China had some difficulties in the beginning but could manage and react quickly because of their risk analysis.

insight china.jpgInsight China 2021

All the projects relied on thorough planning and preparations. This is also why they prepared test calls with all the speakers before to check if the connections and sharing of presentation was working. connectUS created a room on Teams and sent out the link to enter the room. Nuria Brüngger shared that this is something she would do differently another time and send out individual meetings instead.

focus india.jpgFocus India 2021 project team

Another challenge that especially the communication teams faced was the limited resources for content creation. Mostly, the experiences during the Preparatory Seminars are captured in final videos. With the usage of recordings, the communication teams faced the risk of unfavorable material since the control is not in their hands anymore. Therefore, it can happen that speakers are not on spotlight or centred in the camera. Therefore, connectUS asked their delegation to take on an active role as ambassadors. The following videos show connectUS21 students sharing their insights.

Challenges and benefits

The virtual Preparatory Seminar did not only have challenges or disadvantages. exploreASEAN and Focus India for example could benefit from inviting speakers from abroad joining their seminar. So had Focus India a language course with Miss Sonali Gada who lives in Kenya or an exchange with students from Athena Business School from Mumbai. Also, exploreASEAN had guest speakers like Laurence Glass Haller who is a scientist at the embassy of Switzerland in Singapore and other experts from Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam sharing interesting insights about living and working in ASEAN countries. These exchanges created a more intercultural environment and an interesting experience for everyone.

explore asean.jpgexploreASEAN 2021 team

The annual career fair was also held on teams and allowed students to jump from company to company to listen in, ask questions and connect. Some even had speed interviews that prepared them well for potential future jobs after the graduation.

Overall, each team faced the challenge and therefore prepared themselves so that they were equipped. There have not been key issues throughout the week and the overall feedback was incredibly positive. It was certainly a wonderful experience and, who knows? It might be our future.

Further information

Insight China

Focus India

connectUS

exploreASEAN

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