Collaborative Online International Learning

Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) is a type of virtual engagement in which students from the University of Denver (DU) and a partner institution abroad are given the tools and space to engage in purposeful interaction in a joint course. Students from both classes may interact synchronously or asynchronously for a few weeks or an entire term through whichever technologies are most relevant and useful. Often diverse students work together on a project, class discussions or similar group work with discipline-based and intercultural learning outcomes.

Its main goal is to build connections and new relationships with people, knowledge systems and perspectives across numerous types of borders. This is a powerful opportunity to help students engage in cross-cultural learning and global learning on DU’s home campus through accessible technological platforms. Global learning thus prepares students to solve grand challenges, support sustainability and sustainable development goals, and to provide perspectives not only limited to local, regional or national informed understanding, but wider global perspectives.

DU Summer COIL Institute August 8-9, 2023

Register Here

This summer the Office of Internationalization and the Office of Teaching and Learning will hold an institute on August 8th and 9th designed to support faculty in understanding and applying the principles of Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL). This is a 2 day institute--registering for Day 1 will register you for the entire institute.

COIL Pedagogy

COIL Pedagogy

COIL incorporates global learning through access to multiple perspectives using a co-constructed, collaborative syllabus, curriculum, or activity. Instructors and students from both institutions collectively provide a much larger knowledge and experience base for mutual learning. A core tenet of COIL is to rely on each other to co-create course expectations. Negotiating and co-developing the joint online format with another instructor can foster constructive and unique opportunities for student engagement. Remember that it is about learning from and about one another, both in content and cultural learning.

  • Benefits of COIL

    Benefits to Faculty/Instructors

    Stronger Student Engagement

    Due to the unique course design which centers intentional cross-cultural interactions, students are often more engaged in the course content and projects. The cross-cultural collaboration encourages student ownership of learning process making the classroom experience better for everyone.

    Expanding Professional Network

    Collaboration in teaching with faculty peers across the globe has the potential of creating partnership in research, publication, international service opportunities, and grant funding. Global networks are increasingly important aspects of research collaboration and advancing pedagogy.

    Strengthen Technology Skills

    COIL provides faculty with a teaching space to further leverage technology and pedagogies often used during the pandemic to expand the effectiveness of teaching to include virtual and computer-mediated aspects of their curriculum. 

    Supports Global Learning

    Creating and delivering a COILed course helps DU's efforts to advance global and intercultural learning.

    Benefits to Students

    Global Self-Awareness and Personal+Social Responsibility

    Global self-awareness is an understanding of how your actions affect the world around you.  Communicating across-cultures, an experience that COIL makes available to all students, can develop students' self-awareness of their personal values, beliefs, and assumptions. In a study conducted by Ullom (2017), students who had participated in Structured Online Intercultural Learning, similar to COIL, showed increased recognition of being a part of an interdependent global community.

    Perspective Taking

    In COIL courses, students will work with students from another country to complete a project, and in the process, will be exposed to different ways of thinking about a problem and the differences in the systems that exist in another country. Vahed and Rodriguez (2020) conducted a study to examine students' experiences with global learning in their collaborative COIL course and found that 93.8% of the students who participated in a COIL project strongly agreed or agreed that the project introduced them to a new perspective on culture and diversity.

    Cultural Diversity

    In COIL courses, students have the opportunity to work with others from a different cultural backgrounds. COIL allows students to collaboratively work through global issues, while also encouraging them to examine the values and beliefs of their culture as they relate to the global issue (Peterka-Benton & Benton, 2019).  Through this process of negotiation in COIL courses, students learn that in different cultures, people have different communication preferences, and they must “reconsider their assumptions and approaches” (Peterka-Benton & Benton, 2019). 

    Understanding Global Systems

    In a COIL project between a university in the U.S. and a university in Mexico, students were able to learn about the education, international trade, and immigration systems of a neighboring country and identify the interconnectedness of the two countries. Although the COIL collaboration was primarily designed to be a language exchange, through structured discussion and reflection activities, students were able to get new perspectives on global systems through COIL (King de Ramirez, 2020).

    Other potential outcomes for the 21st-Century Skills 

    • Learning and innovation skills: critical thinking and problem solving, communications and collaboration, creativity and innovation.
    • Digital literacy skills: information and media literacy, information and communication technologies literacy.
    • Career and life skills: flexibility and adaptability, initiative and self-direction, social interaction, productivity and accountability.

Examples of COIL at DU

HOSP 2360 - Managing a Restaurant Business with Maastricht University, Netherlands

Partner Institution: Maastricht University, Netherlands.

Discipline: Hospitality Management.

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An Introduction to Mathematical Modelling with Universidad del Desarrollo

Partner Institution: Universidad del Desarrollo, Chile.

Discipline: Mathematics.

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Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)

This experience of cultural exchange to solve problems was very good and you can learn a lot from it. Although it was sometimes difficult to understand because of the difference in language, we were still able to communicate our ideas and what we wanted to express.

Mei Yin, COIL Faculty at DU


Partner with us

Are you a faculty member at DU or faculty/COIL coordinator at any other institution and would like to partner with us? Fill out this survey. 

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Learn more about COIL

Want to learn more about COIL at DU and designing a COIL course? Check out this free online course. 

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