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With Support from Campus Leaders, COIL Programs Expand Access to Global Learning At Home

May 03, 2017

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​Teams from a variety of U.S. and Japanese higher education institutions gathered April 27-28 in Washington, DC, for ACE’s first-ever ACE COIL Leadership Academy. The Academy articulated how a collaborative online international learning (COIL) program can help institutions achieve their goals for delivering global learning and cross-cultural experience to a greater number of students.

ACE’s Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement (CIGE) hosted the Academy in collaboration with COIL Consulting.

Rather than a set curriculum or platform, COIL is a flexible framework for developing courses and international partnerships that support institutional goals for student learning. The COIL method was originally developed by the State University of New York (SUNY) system, and has been adopted by dozens of institutions in the United States and worldwide.

The use of technology to reach “the other 90 percent,” or U.S. undergraduate students who do not participate in education abroad, has long been a priority of ACE. Brad Farnsworth, ACE vice president for internationalization and global engagement, noted that students who participate in COIL courses gain practical experience collaborating online with peers across the world, a skill of increasing importance in today’s global job market.

Facilitators of the Academy included a variety of leading experts and practitioners: Jenifer Cushman, chancellor, Penn State Beaver and a former ACE Fellow (2010-11); Keiko Ikeda, vice-director, Center for International Education, Kansai University (Japan); Jan McCauley, assistant director, SUNY COIL Center; and Jon Rubin, director, COIL Consulting and former director of the SUNY COIL Center.

A central theme of the Academy was the need for a COIL program to develop from the top-down and bottom-up. As Rubin put it, “You can’t create a COIL program without motivated faculty,” but you also need leadership support and coordination. As an example, Cushman discussed how she, as chancellor, has introduced a university-wide plan for launching and scaling Penn State Beaver’s new Experiential Digital Global Engagement program.

Even with a plan in place, faculty implementing COIL courses must be flexible, facilitators agreed. Martha Barantovich—an instructor from the College of Education at Florida International University who spoke via teleconference about a COIL course she recently finished with Paloma Trejo Muñoz, professor at Universidad Politécnica de Santa Rosa Jáuregui (Mexico)—also implored: “Keep it simple.” Barantovich and Trejo said they planned for six weeks, but needed ten.

The Academy covered several elements of establishing or expanding a COIL program, including: identifying and working with an international partner; institutionalizing, sustaining and scaling up the program; and aligning COIL with the institution’s mission statement, strategic plan and curriculum. By the end of the second day, each campus team had begun formulating a plan and general timeline for establishing their COIL program.

CIGE’s Heather Ward emphasized ACE resources that can support institutions’ COIL and internationalization goals, including the CIGE Model for Comprehensive Internationalization, the current Internationalization in Action series on global partnerships (as well as a previous installment focusing on COIL), and the forthcoming Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses 2017 report. CIGE plans to check in with COIL Academy participants over the next 12-18 months to learn about their experiences and offer further programming and resources.

Guest speaker Hideki Iwabuchi, director of the Office for International Planning in the Higher Education Bureau of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, spoke of the potential for COIL to revitalize U.S.-Japan higher education relations.

For more information on internationalization and other CIGE programs, click here.

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