Progress report: Negotiation Teaching and E-Learning
Project 6 began in October 2002 and is co-funded by the TrainIT program funded by the Human Resources Development Canada and the European Community.
Graduate course in negotiations and e-negotiations
This project builds upon joint teaching of students from Concordia University and the University of Vienna in Austria, initiated in 2002 by G. Kersten and S. Köszegi. Based on their teaching experiences, G. Kersten prepared comprehensive course material and developed an interactive website for learning units (the web site was developed by G. Kersten and his students E. Fournier, V. Ong-Seng , and K. P. Law).. The course material together with questionnaires, cases and exercises comprise the core of a graduate course and the web site, both under the title Negotiation and e-negotiation. Management and support.
The Negotiation and e-negotiation course site includes readings and discussion of theoretical concepts and case studies; negotiation simulations; structured debriefing of experiences, and individual reflection to foster experiential learning. It combines traditional and successful elements of conventional negotiation training. The course is delivered in a mixed-mode setting, involving a balanced mix of on-line and in-class activities. On-line activities include individual learning of theoretical concepts, individual exercises, and collaborative negotiation simulations supported by ENS systems. In-class activities are focused on debriefing of on-line experiences, discussion of challenging theoretical concepts and face-to-face negotiation simulations.
The course covers important concepts from the economics and game theory paradigm as well as social psychology with the focus on interpersonal aspects of negotiations. It has 12 modules with each module being structured into 8-12 topics. Each topic is considered as a separate learning object that can be broken into smaller text and graphic components stored in the database.
There are two main views of the course materials: the module view and the topic view. In the module view all modules are presented on the left-hand side of the page and a list of topics for the selected module is displayed in the main part. Each module begins with objectives and is followed by several topics. Every module has a link to additional readings, a link to a discussion forum, where students and instructors can post messages and questions to engage in discussions on course topics, and a link to a glossary containing key definitions. In the topic view the topic list is presented on the left-hand side of the page and the main part of the page contains the learning object, which is a self contained topic description with examples and illustrations. Additionally, with the selection of a topic, a link to the student's individual workspace and discussion become available.
The course was offered twice, in the Fall 2002 and Spring 2003 to students from both sides of the Atlantic:
Although the courses were offered and credited at each university individually, the course activities were coordinated and a series of inter-university e-negotiation simulations were conducted. The same system provided course materials, questionnaires and exercises, and the platform to conduct various e-negotiations.
Undergraduate course in Industrial Relations
The course in Industrial Relations is an existing course in the BBA curriculum at Trinity Western University that covers the topic of labour-management negotiations. The course has regularly included a collective bargaining simulation where the students learn how to negotiate a collective agreement. In the fall terms of 2002 and 2003 the teaching of the negotiation process was enhanced with the use of an ENS (SmartSettle).
In 2002, this involved the class being divided into two groups where one group negotiated from the management perspective, and the other half negotiated from the union perspective. A generic case was used and 5 issues were negotiated. All students were given access to the ENS and were given in-class teaching on what an ENS is and how to use it. The students were required to negotiate on-line outside of class time. Time was spent in class to discuss the process of labour -management negotiations, the actual progress of the negotiations, and the benefits and challenges of using an ENS in collective bargaining.
In 2003, the students participated in an international ENS tournament that focused on labour-management negotiations. The whole class was divided into 3 teams and all negotiated from one perspective against 3 other teams somewhere else in the world. The students were again given access to the ENS and were responsible for learning about ENS and how to use the systems, on their own time, outside of class. A training manual was developed that explained the relationship of ENS to labour-management negotiations. Teaching time was spent on an understanding of one side's issues and challenges (i.e. the union's) with respect to industrial relations' theories and concepts, and how best one side (in this case, the union) could use an ENS to negotiate more effectively with their counterpart.
Graduate course in e-supply chain management
Electronic business is defined by a cohesive set of business processes and functional applications to meet business needs. Within this scenario, integration system thinking is rapidly transforming organizations and industries, in many cases forcing re-engineering of the firm and the Internet is acerbating the change. Enterprise software applications are driving change in today's supply chain. In addition, collaborative systems and Internet portals improve external relations with suppliers, outsourcers, and customers, thus promoting optimal decision-making in the extended supply chain. To help understand these phenomena, a new collaborative teaching project has been initiated.
K. Laframboise and R. Vetschera have initiated this activity. Using the course template for the e-negotiation course (see abovei) as a model, the new e-supply management course contains modules directly related to how B2B relationships are facilitated by the negotiation processes and behaviours. Teaching modules are being developed for both procurement and logistics functions. These particular functions have garnered greater strategic importance partly because of the emergence of electronic procurement activities and e-market facilities. In addition to the course template, an administration parallel template was created that allows collaboration of interested professors, who can easily, while on-line, add or modify content. The modules in this web-based course will accordingly contain materials developed by collaborating professors from various universities.
Like the e-negotiation course, the e-supply chain course includes readings and discussion of theoretical concepts and case studies and individual reflection to foster experiential learning. The objective is for the course to be delivered in a mixed-mode setting, involving a balanced mix of on-line and in-class activities. On-line activities include individual learning of theoretical concepts, individual exercises, and collaborative on-line discussion forums. For course administration purposes, the course would contain 12 modules with each module being structured into 8-12 topics. Each topic is considered as a separate learning object that can be broken into smaller text and graphic components stored in the database.
The e-negotiation course will be offered jointly at several universities, including University of Ottawa, University of Concordia, National Sun Yat-sen University, and University of Vienna. We also plan to offer topical training workshops in negotiations and e-negotiations.
Based on our experiences and students' comments we plan to redesign and enrich the graduate course. Students involved in difficult e-negotiation situations suggested that they would like to reflect on negotiation processes with their actual counterparts to understand their motives and behaviour. We plan to implement such an option and also to add voice and video communication channels. Additionally, we plan to implement more complex simulation cases, in particular, a multi party negotiation case as well as a third party intervention simulation.
Additional technological changes include automatic e-mail notification and moving the customization level to the student and subtopic levels. At present the customization of the course materials is at the module level: modules can be easily sequenced and each module delivered at the required time. Thus tailoring of the module content and sequencing its topics to deliver short courses and seminars is not possible. We also plan to implement interactive online quizzes to support the students' individual learning process. Currently, students may be required to respond to questions posted on the course page but the content of the pages does not depend on their responses. Therefore, it is not possible to provide students, who did not correctly solve a problem, with additional exercises, explanations or readings. This type of customization to individual experience and performance should contribute to the enhancement of students' learning experience.
The qualitative analysis of negotiation transcripts, student reports and journals will allow us to identify specific negotiation skills and know-how for e-negotiations. This knowledge will be used to improve the course design as well as to develop specific training materials for both face-to-face and online modules.