Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) is “a new teaching and learning paradigm that promotes the development of intercultural competence across shared multicultural learning environments.” Through innovative online pedagogies, it combines the four essential dimensions of real virtual mobility: a collaborative exercise of teachers and students; applied use of online technology and interaction; international dimensions; and it is integrated into the learning process (de Wit, 2013).
The University of Richmond is beginning to adopt this new model, tailored specifically towards a Richmond education. We call it Richmond COIL. Use the tabs below to learn about how COIL is being implemented here.
The Richmond COIL initiative is an extension of the successful and significant work that has already been accomplished in internationalization at the University of Richmond. It offers Richmond students and faculty the opportunity to infuse a course in any department or school with an international perspective, either in whole or in part. While this is already being done across the university in a sporadic way, the structure provided by the new COIL initiative can be used as a basis for allowing more faculty and students to experience this opportunity, and therefore benefit the entire campus community.
When the University enters into partnership agreements with universities overseas, most of these include provisions for the exchange of students and also exchange of faculty and staff; many include the opportunity for collaboration on research, projects and teaching as well. While the system of student exchange has been built into an elaborate and successful operation already, the other opportunities provided through Richmond’s partnerships have not yet been utilized to their full potential. Richmond COIL is an excellent way to start to take advantages of these opportunities that are already in place.
Richmond COIL also fits well with other University priorities, such as diversity, community engagement, and the environment - all of which are issues that cross disciplines and national boundaries. The COIL model can enhance these priorities by encouraging faculty and students to explore them from a comparative and international perspective, while contributing to University internationalization.
Learn more about the value of Richmond COIL and how Richmond faculty can begin to participate in this initiative in the Richmond COIL Faculty Handbook, and in the articles included below.
COIL: What it is and why it matters, Hans de Wit
The University of Richmond enjoys the benefits of an extensive worldwide network of partner universities. This network of partner universities is what sets the Richmond COIL model apart from similar initiatives at other universities, where faculty are often on their own to identify partners through their personal and professional connections, or through a much smaller network of partner universities.
In the Richmond COIL model, while UR faculty are not required to select their COIL partner from a Richmond partner university, this is strongly encouraged. International Education staff each have responsibility for managing a portfolio of these partner universities, and know them well. They are experts on the specifics of each partner university, such as which subjects are offered and are particularly strong, the dates of term, and the bureaucratic and cultural differences between Richmond and the partner. Additionally, Richmond International Education staff maintain constant and personal connections with counterparts in the international office at the partner university.
Any faculty member interested in exploring the addition of a COIL component to an existing or planned new course should contact International Education to open an initial conversation regarding how our office can support the faculty member in finding a partner from the UR partner network.
Learn more about this process in the Richmond COIL Faculty Handbook.
A main consideration when designing a COIL course is the technological fit between Richmond and the target partner institution. Faculty participating in Richmond COIL will enjoy the advising and support of Doug West, Assistant Vice President in the Information Services organization, and his team of technical staff in the Telecom and Media Support Services (TMSS) group, as well as faculty liaisons from the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology (CTLT) at UR.
Once a faculty member has identified the course topic and found a partner abroad, Doug, members of his team, and the CTLT liaisons, will meet with the faculty member to learn more about their plans for the class, and how they envision connecting with the partner overseas from a pedagogical standpoint. Based on information gathered during the initial meeting, Doug's team will make recommendations for the most appropriate technology, or technologies, that best meet the needs that have been outlined. Additionally, Doug and the other IS team members will connect with their counterparts at the relevant partner institution to identify the “common denominator” in the two universities’ technical capabilities, for the purpose of ensuring compatibility with the intended collaborative solutions. Once a decision has been reached on the use of a specific solution, IS members will coordinate training on the use of the tool for the Richmond faculty member. A member of Doug’s team will be also be present in the classroom for the first collaborative session, and will be able to assist the faculty member in the use of the technology during the class. It is expected that as the faculty member becomes more comfortable with the use of the technology, Doug’s team will gradually cede control of the system operation to the faculty member, and no technical support will be required during the class period. But tech support will not be removed abruptly; rather, when the faculty member is comfortable with managing it on their own.
One additional piece that Doug’s team will facilitate is one or more practice connections between the two partnered faculty members and their respective technology support teams before the course actually begins. These practice connections are intended to test the use of the selected collaborative tool, proper connection to the respective data networks, and to allow the participating faculty the opportunity to practice their interactions, and minimize the likelhihood of technological glitches.
Depending on which types of technology are deemed to be most appropriate for a particular COIL course, a specific classroom or classroom spaces may be required. These specialized classroom environments are equipped with specific technology configurations that support the use of conferencing and other collaborative solutions. The Registrar’s Office has indicated that they it will give preference in classroom assignments to courses that are utilizing the COIL model, provided they are notified of the request by the department chair and our office approximately 9 months before the course is scheduled to be offered.
Learn more in the Richmond COIL Faculty Handbook.