Jean Pratt

Dr. Hsiu-Li Liao, Chung Yuan Christian University, (second from the left) and Dr. Jean Pratt, UW-Eau Claire (third from the left) with peach farmers who received a database-supported website developed by Liao’s and Pratt’s information systems students.

IS class teams up with Taiwanese students on outsourcing project

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students in Dr. Jean Pratt’s database management course partnered with students in Dr. Hsiu-Li Liao’s database management course at Chung Yuan Christian University in Chung Li City, Taiwan, to experience both sides of an outsourcing relationship.

The Taiwanese student teams designed a web-accessible database application to track the sale of peaches grown by indigenous Taiwanese farmers. The American student teams designed a database for a case study organization based on a regional aquarium. Each university “outsourced” the development of the databases to the other university. Students used email for communication and a Taiwanese-specified “cloud” server for file repository. Since all of the Taiwanese students spoke some English and none of the American students spoke Mandarin, students communicated in English.

The project was a great learning experience for both sets of students, according to Pratt. To work together effectively, students had to overcome both language and time barriers.

In the beginning of the project, UW-Eau Claire students were frustrated when they didn’t receive timely communication from the CYCU students. However, Pratt learned from Dr. Liao that the Taiwanese students were embarrassed by what they perceived as their inadequate English skills and they were reluctant to communicate with UW-Eau Claire students, even after much encouragement by them.

“Our students learned to appreciate the difficulty of trying to communicate technical material in a non-native language,” said Pratt.

Working with a 13-hour time difference also challenged the student teams.

“The Taiwanese partner teams worked at night and then slept in the next morning, which made scheduling meetings even more difficult,” said Pratt. “Our students learned that working with an overseas outsourcer meant either using asynchronous communication or scheduling online meetings during small windows of similar waking hours,” she said.

Because the UW-Eau Claire Information Systems (IS) Industry Advisory Committee recommends that all IS students have some international experience, Pratt and Liao plan to work on future collaborative learning projects.  Over the past summer, Pratt traveled to Taiwan to discuss potential projects with Liao and other information systems faculty at Chung Yuan Christian University. 

While in Taiwan, Pratt also met some of the indigenous peach farmers from the class project. She learned that the website had enabled the farmers, who previously were selling less than 60% of their saleable crop from street-side booths were now at 110% capacity. The farmers were receiving 10% more orders from the website than they could fill from their entire saleable crop.

To learn more about this project, contact Dr. Jean Pratt, associate professor, UW-Eau Claire Department of Information Systems.

About Chung Yuan Christian University

Chung Yuan Christian University is a private university located in Chung Li City, Taiwan. The university was established as an agricultural and engineering college in Taiwan to train science and engineering talent in the Christian Spirit. After several name changes and long preparations, the Chung Yuan Christian College of Science and Engineering (CYCC) was established in 1955 upon approval by the Ministry of Education.  With "education through honest, diligent pursuit and practical experience" as the school`s motto, the college was composed of four departments, namely, the departments of physics, chemistry, chemical engineering, and civil engineering. Upgraded to the status of a full university, CYCC was renamed Chung Yuan Christian University (CYCU) in 1980.

Today, the university enrolls students in seven-granting school and colleges, such as the College of Science, Engineering, Business, Design, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Humanities and Education, and the School of Law. The university offers 28 graduate programs and 13 Ph.D. programs in 27 departments. CYCY has more than 90,000 alumni.

Source: eng.cycu.edu.tw

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