Resume on studies in Korea

This post describes the courses I had in my exchange graduate studies in Korea. The content is partially extracted from my experience report for the University of Cologne.

General

While it was theoretically possible to attend a few undergraduate courses as a graduate student, as part of my university exchange program I had to take at least four graduate courses to be able to transfer the credit points to my major of my home university. After a succesful registration of the courses and the first attendances I decided to get along with all of them. I don’t regret taking the Korean language course as from the middle of the semester the workload has risen sharply and if I would have had another course I wouldn’t have found the time to visit any of the festivals in Seoul – not to speak of all the events organized by KUBA and KUBS Buddy.

In retrospective, while the workload was high, the pay-off was also good, so I’m quite satisfied with my choices. The following table lists the courses I’ve chosen.

CourseAssessmentWeekly workloadAdditional workload
Global StrategyWeekly reflection notes
+ participation
+ final exam
3 hours for class
+ 6 to 8 hours for homework
= 9 to 11 hours
None, as learning for the final exam takes the usual time for an assignment.
Global Innovation ManagementParticipation (?)
+ Random quizzes
+ Case presentation
+ Paper
3 hours for class
+ 2 to 3 hours for reading the paper
= 5 to 6 hours
Case: 3 hours
+ Paper: 50 hours
Information Systems ResearchWeekly assignments in R
+ one group presentation
+ separate large task in R
+ three exams
3 hours for class
+ 2 to 3 hours for weekly R assignment
= 5 to 6 hours
Group presentation: 4 hours
+ separate large task: 8 hours
+ exams: 10 hours each
Organization Theory and Information SystemsWeekly summaries
+ writing an introduction of a paper with a research question with a theory in background
+ presentation of the chosen theory
3 hours for class
+ about 2 to 3 hours at the first half, about 6 hours at the second half of the semester for summaries
= 6 to 9 hours
Paper + presentation 30 hours

Global strategy

Topics: Industry-, Resource- and Institution-based-views; Transaction Costs; Real Options; International product and cooperation strategies

With a nearly constant workload, Global Strategy was easy to manage which was very helpful as the workload for other courses usually varied a lot, but it came with the price of being the course I overall spent the most hours on. In each class three paper were presented and three questions per paper discussed, with each paper presented by one student. Depending on the class size, you must hold several presentations, in my case there have been four.

From a pedagogical view, this concept works very well for small groups. It’s very intense and you must prepare a lot (like answering the questions formulated by the presenters in advance of the class), but often you get a deep understanding of the topic rather than evaluating it only on the surface. Sometimes there have been debates around specific topics and you can learn a lot from fellow students. The class was attended by six Europeans (including me) and two Koreans.

Overall, I highly recommend this course, but be mindful of the high weekly workload.

Global Innovation Management

Topics: Innovation management from different angles, specific cases of innovations (e. g. open software, pharmaceuticals, 3D-printing)

While the weekly workload is low, during a relatively short time frame (around two and a half weeks) you must write a 15-page-paper about the innovation management of a company of your choice and one or two weeks later you must present it. Theoretically, you can begin writing on it in advance, e. g. about basic data like firm size and so on, but still must do most of the work later once you got introduced to the topics presented in class.

In general, the topics are easy to catch, especially if you have a background in Information Systems or Business, but they’re still interesting, especially as some relatively new technologies and business models are examined in detail. I recommend taking part in the course, but warn about a short-lasting very high workload.

The class size was about 15 students, half of them Koreans, the other half Europeans.

IS Research Methodology

Topics: Fundamentals of statistics in academic writing (Variables, distinction to BI), R learning and code examples

While the class is usually structured the same way, some of the homework is said during class instead of explicitly at the end, so you should pay attention the whole time. About 50 % of the time is spent on the theoretical background, the other 50 % deals with statistical language R. Three exams must be written, so about one time per month. The workload is nearly constant for each week, only the separate large tasks requires additional effort.

In my opinion, it was a very valuable course as it presents the methodological background of academic research that helps to evaluate the paper analyzed in other courses. Acquiring some knowledge about R is useful in many fields, so even if you’re not into Business or Information Systems, you could still find it beneficial.

From a pedagogical view, the lectures should be better organized as some students I talked to didn’t understand the tasks they had to fulfill. I recommend recapping at the end of the lecture what should be done in the homework. In contrast to other courses, I was the only westerner taking part in it, and in general there were nearly no discussions and only few questions from the professor to the audience. Sometimes he had the feeling that Koreans struggle with his English explanations and he translated what he said into Korean afterwards.

To sum, it felt more of a school rather than a university class. If you’re fine with that, you have the chance of getting good grades, especially if you seek to discuss your separate large task with the professor.

Organization Theory

Topics: Forms of theories, user acceptance, diffusion of innovation, organizational leadership, media dependency, IT security

Among all courses, this one was the easiest to go through as the overall workload is much less than for other courses (even though it rises at about the second half of the semester), but at the same time you had to examine the paper in much more detail as your summary should also consist of own thoughts that egress the paper’s content. 50 % of the classes were held by the professor, the other half by the students holding their presentation of their theory.

The class consisted of three European and three Korean graduates and one student in her first year of her PhD. There were many discussions about academic topics in general and about the presented theories. Some of them have roots in psychology, so the overall technical perspective was very broad.

I recommend this course not only due to the lower workload, but also from a professional point of view as you can get good insights of specific fields like IT security.

Once the semester is over

Edit 28th August, 2017: At the end of July I received a message from the local coordinators that I can collect my academic transcript. So overall this is what you get once you’ve worked your way through your semester.

Sources

Featured Image – By Ansonlobo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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