Virtual Exchange/COIL Transformation Lab​


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Investing more resources into innovative digital collaboration methods within the higher education sector will provide flexibility and resilience to shifting in-country and global conditions. Higher education institutions play a critical role in preparing students to understand, proactively engage in, and work to collaboratively solve global issues of importance at local, national, and international levels after graduation.

Picture of students talking and laughing together while engaging in virtual learning.

Photo courtesy of Rockland Community College (NY).

A growing number of universities and colleges are seeking new ways to provide students with global competencies that complement traditional forms of physical mobility and academic exchange. This has led to a dramatic increase in interest in virtual exchange (VE), including one of its most comprehensive forms, collaborative online international learning (COIL).

ACE is guiding efforts to advance the digital transformation of U.S. higher education teaching and learning through its VE/COIL Transformation Lab. Each VE/COIL Transformation Lab: 

  • Provides support and resources on VE/COIL for U.S. and global higher education partnerships​
  • Infuses professional development for senior leadership through institutional self-assessment, virtual campus visits, peer networking, and support​
  • Creates a foundation for online dialogue and collaboration with international partner institutions and peer institutions
  • Ensures high-quality professional training by world-renowned ACE VE/COIL experts through intensive online courses, customized mentored guidance, and online campus visits to institutions leading up to their pilot VE/COIL implementation​
Training and Support

Each VE/COIL Transformation Lab incorporates two parallel online intensive training programs for U.S. and global partner institutions—one custom-designed for faculty instructors and the other for senior academic and international education administrators. ​

Working closely with multilingual and multicultural ACE experts, participating institutions will:  

  • Assemble VE/COIL leadership and faculty teams on campus
  • Innovate online pedagogical practices to be more inclusive and equitable for students
  • Ensure development and delivery of high-quality online learning experiences to foster competencies and skills for today's workforce
  • Align VE/COIL program goals and objectives with learner success, workforce development, and internationalization strategies within the institution
  • Invest more in sustainable and inclusive global partnerships that build upon shared principles, values, vision, and goals

VE/COIL Transformation Lab Experts​

Kris Acheson-Clair, Director, Center for Intercultural Learning, Mentorship, Assessment and Research, Purdue University (IN-USA)

Gian Mario Besana, Associate Provost for Global Engagement and Online Learning, DePaul University (IL-USA)

Don Bysouth, Associate Professor, Division of International Affairs, Kansai University (Japan)

Harvey Charles, Dean for International Education and Vice Provost for Global Strategy, State University of New York at Albany (USA)

Francesca A. Cichello, Executive Director of International Education, State University of New York at Empire State College (USA)

Darla Deardorff, Executive Director, Association of International Education Administrators (USA)

John Dirx, Mildred B. Erickson Distinguished Chair (Emeritus) in Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education at Michigan State University (USA)

Mary Lou Forward, Executive Director, State University of New York COIL Center (USA)

Stephanie Doscher, Director, Office of Collaborative Online International Learning, Florida International University (USA)

John E. Fowler, Senior Program Specialist, American Council on Education (USA)

Megan Gibbons, Director, Center for Global Connections, Regis College (MA-USA)

Miriam Hauck, Senior Lecturer, Department of Languages, The Open University (UK)

Keiko Ikeda, Vice Director, Institute for Innovative Global Education, Kansai University (Japan)

Hajime Nishitani, Professor of Law, Vice Executive, Top Global University Project, Hiroshima University (Japan)

Veronica Onorevole, Associate Director, Programs and Global Initiatives, Learning and Engagement, American Council on Education (USA)

Jon Rubin, Director, COIL Consulting (USA)

Craig N. Shealy, Executive Director, International Beliefs and Values Institute, Western Washington University (USA)

Andrea E. Thomas, University Advisor for Virtual Exchange/COIL and Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategist (USA)


​COIL is a research-based virtual exchange modality. Faculty in two or more countries ​collaborate to develop a joint syllabus for students to work together online to complete assignments that meet shared learning objectives. For over a decade, ACE has recognized the COIL model as a cost-effective, accessible method for delivering global learning and intercultural experiences to underrepresented student groups.​

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Photo courtesy of Chiba University (Japan) and University of Alabama.

​​In addition to providing training support, ACE conducts program-level research to evaluate the impact of COIL on student learning, faculty development, and institutional transformation. ACE utilizes its Model for Comprehensive Internationalization​ and Model for Comprehensive Learner Success to collect both time series and cross-sectional data on COIL from different institution types.  ​

Both models embrace an organizational growth mindset with guiding principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion; data-informed decision-making; and agility and transformation as essential to achieving comprehensive internationalization and learner success.

Partners and Sponsors

In collaboration with government leaders, the private sector (nonprofit and for profit), and institutions worldwide, ACE provides specialized VE/COIL Transformation Labs that consider beyond the boundaries of institution, geography, and time to maximize learning outcomes and growth opportunities to reach all students, both now and in the future.

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Individual Programs



Global Challenges Teaching Awards ​​​

ACE will be providing a VE/COIL Transformation Lab as a benefit of the US-UK Fulbright Commission's new Global Challenges Teaching Awards. These awards will support undergraduate level,​ virtual exchange/COIL courses on ​​racial justice, pandemics, and climate change.

This year's application cycle is now closed. However, ahead of the next application cycle, you can find out more about these awards by visiting the awards website or by emailing​ the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission​.

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