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Research questions: How can our current knowledge of experiential learning be applied to cross-cultural web-based training? How do postproject interviews with the participants advance our knowledge about experiential learning? What practical recommendations for teachers and trainers can be offered based on this and similar case studies? Situating the case: Literature on virtual teams stipulates the importance of teaching leadership development within teams, including methods of conflict resolution, and flexibility in methods and tools of communication. Literature on experiential learning places a high value on learner experience, and on indirect and combined methods of assessing experiential learning projects. Methodology: The case was studied through the analysis of data obtained from unstructured class interviews with three of the US-based participants of the teaching project. Interview participants were chosen to ensure a variety of responses about their experiences while taking part in the project. About the case: The project was a part of an introductory graduate-level seminar in technical and scientific communication. Graduate students in technical communication from the US and graduate students in marketing from Ukraine participated in the project. The participants worked in virtual teams to create collaborative analyses of localized versions of websites of transnational corporations. The findings of this research are as follows. (1) Virtual teams work more effectively when given time to build trust and connections among participants. (2) Virtual teams work more effectively when time is devoted to the development of leaders and the articulation of leadership responsibilities within teams. (3) Experiential learning team participants use a variety of communication tools depending on the nature of the communicative task at hand. (4) As part of the learning process, virtual team members recognized and attempted to adjust to cultural and professional discourse di- ferences between countries and professional fields.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2012