Seventeen students in the School’s professional and online healthcare MBA programs got real-world international business training this summer when they traveled to Sweden to consult with a company that is eager to market a computer tool designed to help spinal cord injury patients in the United States.
The students traveled as part of the online/study-abroad summer course, “Healthcare and Marketing Strategy: The Swedish Experience,” developed by Anna Helm, assistant professor of international business, with a $5,000 grant from the GW’s Online Learning Initiative.
After spending five weeks doing online course work, the students went to Stockholm for their sixth week to consult with Tobii Technology, the maker of the Tobii PCEye – a device that allows people to control their computers with eye movement.
“They can access the world through that device,” said Helm. “For a Swedish company of any size, the U.S. market is very tricky, very complicated.” Some issues to be considered by the company, and students, include how to navigate the complex U.S. regulatory landscape and how to fund such a device for patients if it’s not deemed “medically necessary” by their public or private health insurers.
Helm has taken students in the School’s fulltime Global MBA program to Sweden on three previous occasions for consultancy projects. But with an online course, the students, teachers and client had only met virtually, via tools such as Skype, Blackboard, DropBox and VoiceThread, before traveling.
“We set foot in Sweden, and most everybody met each other for the first time,” said Helm, who was helped in finding the client, and with on-the-ground logistics, by the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce. “It was very intensive. They were very keen to get to know each other.”
In the end, Helm said, the class seemed particularly gratified to work on a project that could improve people’s lives by enhancing their opportunities for social interaction and finding employment.
“It’s really worthwhile,” said Helm. “And that’s what students feel. It’s a corporation but they do something good for society too.”
Read more about Helm’s approach to online teaching here.
Posted by gwsb on August 28, 2012 | Filed under: GWSB News.