Prof. Brendon Knott, Cape Peninsula University of Technology

The COVID-19 pandemic may have prohibited international travel, yet in some cases, it also provided a catalyst to design new online means of international engagement. Academics from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and the School of Marketing and Management at Coventry University, UK, realised that with all their students and class engagement being online, it was easier to arrange combined classes and virtual engagement, especially given the similar time zone. The result was the design of a collaborative project that saw students designing a marketing launch for an event which is similar to Cape Town’s ‘Fit-night out’ (an annual outdoor fitness event linked to the Women’s Health Magazine) but adapted for the UK audience.

CPUT Sport Management Department’s Associate Prof Brendon Knott says a group of final year undergraduate students from Coventry were paired with Advanced Diploma CPUT students to collaborate on this sport event marketing project in a Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) project. “COIL refers to ‘virtual mobility’ experiences that are incorporated into the formal curriculum,” says Dr Knott. At the end of the project, the students were required to submit a 15-minute launch video highlighting various aspects of the event and their proposed ideas. In addition, each student was required to submit a reflective essay documenting the digital and intercultural skills they had learnt from the collaboration.

Students were actively engaging in sport event design and marketing principles on an international level of Teaching and Learning, says CPUT project facilitator, Dr Janice Hemmonsbey. Dr Hemmonsbey adds that the students from the two universities engaged virtually on this exciting interactive event design project. “The UK version of Women’s Health Magazine wants to bring the outdoor fitness event concept to England, to encourage sport participation in women, more so considering the forthcoming 2022 Commonwealth Games,” she says.

Selected feedback from CPUT students highlighted the success of the project:

“The sessions were very informative and that the two groups of students helped each other a lot. We got more understanding of event design and event experience. Now our group knows how to apply the theory. It was great to learn about their culture and how they do things.”

We were able to work with students who are completely different to us. We were able to learn about how other countries do things when it comes to cultural activities and we were able to see how diverse we are as people, yet we were able to communicate and work together on this project.”

Coventry University project coordinator, Helen Grimley, says that her students learnt to compare their opinions and knowledge on outdoor fitness events with those of their university peers and the South African students. Grimley adds, “They were able to gain insights into a different cultural perspective which they may not have even considered if the COIL project hadn’t taken place”.