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Six Minutes with Berlin

December 4, 2017

When she visited her son who was studying abroad at The Berlin School of Economics and Law (BSEL), Jodi Cataline, clinical professor in the LeBow College of Business, had an idea. Cataline has been teaching Global Classrooms – courses that use interactive technologies to connect Drexel students to peers at one of Drexel’s partner institutions abroad. Cataline had traveled before to other international partners of Drexel to talk about global classrooms, and she wanted to do the same on this trip. After presenting about Drexel to BSEL's Study Abroad office, Cataline was connected with Beatrix Dietz, professor of business and economics at BSEL. This connection led to Cataline establishing Drexel's first global classroom with BSEL.

Together, students from Cataline's Foundations of Business course and Dietz's Introductory Marketing course began work on the Six-Minute Pitch, a project where groups of collaborate to form an idea for an innovative product, conduct research on their product’s feasibility and potential competition, and market it to a panel of judges, acting as angel investors. This project gives all business freshmen the ability to think through the business process from idea conception to looking for potential investment to get the company started. Because of the collaboration with BSEL, the students faced with an additional challenge – the teams mixed of Drexel and BSEL students had to come up with a product that could be marketable in both the United States and Germany.

Students collaborated using a variety of technologies to complete the project. Across video-sharing platforms, the students discuss what they have learned in their respective classes to contribute to the project. Besides learning business concepts, the teams learned about cultural differences between Germany and the United States. One student, Hiral Patel, noted, "We catch up before working on the project, so we're making friends and getting to know one another. Germany is still catching up on technology we already have in the United States, so we're learning about differences and comparing what we have in our surrounding environments. Everyone is learning from each other on the differences and there are so many!"

Many of the groups have international students, both at Drexel and BSEL. One group is composed only of international students from five different countries. This group noted that it will be especially challenging to create a product that is marketable in both the United States and Germany, because none of the team members are from either country. "It's crazy, because we're all international! I'm meeting students (and now have friends) from Brazil, Scotland, Belgium, and India," exclaimed Tilda Yildirim, a Turkish international student at Drexel.

Cataline explained the skills that her students are gaining from the Global Classroom, "They learn about project deliverables, and beyond that, time management, cultural awareness, language barriers, the differences in the language of business between countries, and the different marketing and media outlets." She wants students to gain a cultural awareness and to become global citizens. As many of her students are from the United States, Cataline encourages them to use the international resources at Drexel to learn, study and/or complete a co-op abroad, so her students gain even more experience working with people from different cultures before beginning their professional careers.

Cataline noted the importance of a strong relationship between the faculty members in order to maximize student success in a successful Global Classroom. "You need an open dialogue and a counterpart you like. We have to have the same teaching objectives and be flexible," she explained.

Cataline’s advice to other faculty members interested in turning an existing course into a Global Classroom? She recommends starting the project in a small format with no high-stakes grading – the scope can always increase in the future.

Faculty members from any discipline who are interested in incorporating a global dimension into their scheduled course and linking it to a class of students at an international partner institution are eligible for development support from the Office of International Programs. For more information, email