How Online Teams with Diverse Backgrounds Worked to Excel: Findings from an International eTournament

Martin Lau, Rupa Vuthaluru, Lawrence Mui, Simon Kerrigan, Theresa Kwong, Lisa Law, Eva Y. W. Wong*, David Gibson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


A tide of changes with technological advances at its center has allowed more efficient and productive synchronous and asynchronous collaborations among dispersed individuals across the globe in recent years. Working effectively in virtual teams of individuals with diverse backgrounds is thus critical for students to succeed in the 21st century. However, relevant training for international collaboration is lacking in the higher education system. The research team examined data from a project aimed to heighten students’ multidisciplinary and multicultural competencies via a team-based, international eTournament organized in 2019 and enhanced and repeated in early 2020 featuring the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. Students were teamed up according to a mechanism, to ensure diversity in each virtual team and mimic the real practice in many workplaces. A two-stage “strategize-play” approach was deployed with activities carried out entirely online. Team members first got to know each other, built up their teams and formulated their strategies for the next stage. In the second stage, the virtual teams competed with one other on a gamified learning platform called PaGamO by answering questions related to the SDGs. About 240 students (2019) and 420 students (2020) participated. Various sets of quantitative and qualitative data were collected, including student chat histories, focus group interviews, data analytics from PaGamO recording how the students progressed in the game, as well as the pre- and post-game surveys. This article focuses on the chat histories of students from the top-5 and bottom-5 teams of the 2019 and 2020 eTournaments. The results provide evidence that the high performing teams took a different gaming approach from the low performing teams in such areas as team building and game strategy deployment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number624438
JournalFrontiers in Education
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Education

User-Defined Keywords

  • challenge-based learning
  • gamification
  • multi-cultural
  • multi-disciplinary
  • online learning
  • online team


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