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COIL Workshop: Enhance Your Courses With Global Engagement

By David Simpson, Paul Currant, Michael Dean, and Annette Finley-Croswhite

In order to contribute to and thrive in today's world, ODU students need a global education and an understanding of global citizenship. Study abroad is an ideal way to move toward this goal but is currently not a realistic option for many Monarchs. There is, however, an effective and convenient way all our students can experience global cultural perspectives in an academic setting. Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) connects students and faculty in different countries for collaborative projects and discussions as part of their coursework.

Through an innovative approach heralded by the Center for Global Engagement and the Center for Faculty Development, ODU faculty now can learn more about COIL in the form of a training workshop facilitated by the State University of New York (SUNY), an acknowledged world leader in this innovative field.

One of the hurdles of global education is that it can be very expensive. Often only the most affluent students can travel abroad. COIL seeks to change the way we conceive of global education. By pairing faculty in the United States with international faculty, COIL encourages instructors to work on mini-units where students in the ODU classroom can work with students abroad for a part of the semester on specialized projects. Michael Dean, deputy director of ODU's Center for Global Engagement, notes that COIL "is developing into a barrier-destroying course structure that can provide experiential global learning experiences for our students that fit almost effortlessly into current ODU curricula."

A new initiative from the Center for Global Engagement and the Center for Faculty Development

From March 7 to 25, 2022, ODU faculty can take a three-week online workshop called COIL Foundations and offered by the SUNY COIL Center. Thanks to funding from the Center for Global Engagement and the Center for Faculty Development, a limited number of faculty can experience this workshop for free. Interested? Visit the COIL site and fill out an application.

The online workshop requires about two to four hours per week, around six to 12 hours total. It's interactive as you engage with a live instructor and your classmates, as well as pursue independent work. Upon completion of the workshop, you will be required to fill out a survey covering your experience and projected outcomes.

"COIL Foundations provides tools that you can use to develop and facilitate a rewarding COIL collaboration for you and your students," the workshop description explains. "You will examine issues of culture, language, virtual team building, partnership and the importance of reflection in skill development. We will specifically address how to support students' intercultural skills online, considerations for finding and maintaining a strong relationship with your COIL teaching partner, when and how to use reflection activities, options and approaches to bridging language differences, and how to approach team building and developing trust."

Once you've learned how the method works, you'll need to find a collaborator. Perhaps you have a colleague in another country who teaches in your discipline. Or perhaps you need to search for one; the Center for Global Engagement can help. So can the SUNY COIL Center.

COIL is an affordable way to engage your students in global education and support your learning goals. It promotes active learning as you open the windows of your classroom onto the world. Students can make vital international networking connections via COIL that can lead to greater opportunities.

And COIL entails far less preparation than study-abroad courses do. "Incorporating a COIL Collaboration into your existing course doesn't require an expensive technology platform or extensive redesign of your course," according to the SUNY COIL website. "It only requires an interest in effective, innovative pedagogy, a bit of flexibility and enthusiasm, and some thoughtful preparation. A well-planned COIL Collaboration enhances your existing course, helps students develop curiosity about the world and a deeper understanding of their own and other cultures, bolsters 21st century skills, and provides new perspectives on course content." The COIL Collaboration, moreover, can be designed for a limited number of weeks in your existing course as opposed to the whole semester. COIL offers great flexibility.

Want to know more about the COIL approach? Watch the short video What Is COIL? from Florida International University and/or a panel discussion from ODU's Day of Teaching on Sept. 17, 2021.

At ODU, the Center for Global Engagement recently adopted a goal of enabling experiential global education for all students, and the Center for Faculty Development is also promoting global education embedded in the curriculum. Collaborative Online International Learning fits in well with these goals, along with traditional study-abroad/away and virtual learning.

For more information, contact Paul Currant, senior international officer (pcurrant@odu.edu), or Annette Finley-Croswhite, director, Center for Faculty Development (acroswhi@odu.edu).

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