Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Courses: An Equitable Approach to Global Learning

Mar 29, 2022

By: Levi Lindsey, Director for Strategic Partnerships, Casey Dinger, Executive and Academic Director for Internationalization, and Leslie Cramblet Alvarez, Director of the Office of Teaching and Learning, Co-chair Teaching Excellence Task Force

With over 70% of undergraduate students participating in study abroad programs, DU prides itself on its top ranking for sending students abroad. However, the 30% of undergraduate students (and some graduate students) who don’t study abroad miss out on this critical global learning opportunity. A reliance on mobility as a means of globalizing campus has inadvertently excluded students and faculty who are unable to participate due to life circumstances and barriers.

What if all students could experience global learning and collaborate with colleagues and students across the globe without the carbon footprint or expense of traveling? Founded at the State University of New York, Virtual Exchange (VE)/Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) is an innovative method of teaching and learning that leverages online technologies to deliver global learning and intercultural experiences in the classroom (SUNY COIL Center). While not a replacement for international mobility, COIL provides all students with access to such intercultural learning and relationship opportunities, thus making it more equitable and inclusive.

In fact, virtual exchange and COIL courses have existed at DU for years. In recent memory, students and faculty collaborated with peers in Australia, South Africa, and Chile, across six courses ranging in content from literature to blockchain, feminist and queer theory to leadership. In Winter 2020, 16 faculty and staff explored COIL as part of a Faculty Learning Community collaboratively offered by the Office of Internationalization (INTZ), Office of Teaching and Learning, and co-facilitated by Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Teaching Associate Professor at RSECS, Breigh Roszelle.

INTZ and the OTL have continued this collaboration and connected with universities across the globe to refine DU’s programming and promote this innovative pedagogy. In spring of 2021, Casey Dinger, Levi Lindsey, and Leslie Cramblet Alvarez represented DU as a participating institution in Florida International University’s COIL International Exchange Institute.

As a result of this institute, OTL and INTZ are continuing to support this effort through the development of a Canvas course to help faculty learn about and develop COIL-integrated classes. The course is designed to be flexible for individuals to progress at their own pace and for groups/cohorts to move through it more deliberately.

Interested in learning more? A half-day COIL workshop will be offered as part of this year’s Internationalization Summit. More details to come! To access the COIL Canvas course, please email the Office of Teaching and Learning.