Rapid Response Virtual Exchange/COIL Initiative Sustains Global Learning During Pandemic
August 06, 2020

ACE's new Rapid Response Virtual Exchange/Collaborative Online International Learning (VE/COIL) Transformation Lab: U.S.-Japan will strengthen U.S.-Japan higher education relations by providing training and guidance to universities and colleges interested in producing quality-assured, high-impact VE/COIL programs. The groundbreaking initiative, which is of particular significance while many international programs are suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is supported by the U.S. Embassy Tokyo and Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT).

“As many colleges and universities face uncertainty about in-person learning and physical mobility, the need for helping all students continue to learn global skills remains certain," said ACE President Ted Mitchell. “VE/COIL is a viable means to ensure U.S. higher education institutions and their Japanese partners are well positioned to move forward with their plans to continue and even reinvigorate global learning and connection."

Virtual exchange consists of sustained, technology-enabled, people-to-people education programs or activities in which constructive communication and high level interaction takes place between individuals or groups who are geographically separated and/or from different cultural backgrounds. COIL is a research-based method of virtual exchange involving faculty in two or more countries collaborating to develop a joint syllabus for students to then work together online to complete assignments that meet shared learning objectives.

“We believe COIL activities will preserve and strengthen friendship between our youth and partnership between our countries," said Kuniaki Sato, director, Office for International Planning, Higher Education Bureau, MEXT.

After a binational call for applications, ACE selected 14 U.S.-Japan higher education partnerships to participate in the training program:

  • Minnesota State University-Mankato and Hosei University (Tokyo)

  • University of Montana and Sophia University (Tokyo)

  • The Ohio State University and University of Tsukuba

  • Honolulu Community College (HI) and Niigata Prefectural University

  • Harvard University (MA) and Hiroshima University

  • University of Hawaii-Manoa and Kagoshima University

  • Catholic University of America (DC) and Sophia University (Tokyo)

  • Morgan State University (MD) and Kansai University

  • Bridgewater State University (MA) and Tokyo Gakugei University

  • Alverno College (WI) and Tokyo Women's Medical University

  • Western Washington University and Kansai University

  • University of Hawaii-West Oahu and Kansai Gadai University

  • Trinity University (TX) and Kwansei Gakuin University (Hyogo)

  • The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Sophia University (Tokyo)

Modeled after ACE's successful U.S.-Japan COIL Initiative (2018-2020), the Rapid Response VE/COIL Transformation Lab will bring leadership and faculty from each of the selected U.S.-Japan institutional partners together online to work over a three-month period to align VE/COIL with immediate and long-term strategic goals, and develop learning experiences that provide students with competencies and skills for navigating today and tomorrow's global challenges.

ACE's partner in the program, the Institute for Innovative Global Exchange (IIGE) at Kansai University, the leading pioneer of VE/COIL in Japan since 2014, is providing support and guidance to instructional faculty members from the selected teams.

“Maintaining physical distance should not prohibit instructors and students from gaining the global collaboration skills needed to be successful in their courses, their workplaces, as well as in their communities. COIL provides a 'simulated experience' of what the next-generation global job market will be," says Dr. Keiko Ikeda, vice-director of IIGE.

“The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo is proud to work with ACE and IIGE to provide intensive training and support for U.S. and Japanese institutions," said Carolyn Glassman, minister-counselor for public affairs at the U.S. Embassy Tokyo. “COIL is a potential gateway to study abroad and it gives students the experience collaborating virtually with teammates across the globe, an increasingly vital skill in today's workforce."

ACE is currently exploring opportunities to expand the rapid response model to partnerships with other countries in addition to Japan.

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