What is COIL?
COIL or Collaborative Online International Learning is an approach that promotes the development of students’ intercultural competences in multicultural learning environments while staying at home. COIL connects students and professors in different countries for collaborative projects and discussions and seeks to provide meaningful, significant opportunities for international experiences and cultural awareness integrated into programmes of study. COIL also seeks to enhance intercultural student interaction (cf. https://coil.suny.edu/) and is often synonymously used with the term virtual exchange (cf. http://www.unicollaboration.org/).
New opportunities for collaboration and exchange in the ASEM Education Process
The ASEM Education Process would like to promote the COIL-approach amongst its partner countries as it allows for more equitable access to meaningful exchanges and intercultural collaboration between Asian and European students and lecturers, than physical exchanges.
ASEM COIL Pilot Project
Under the initiative of Prof. Dr. Alexandra Angress, from the University of Applied Sciences Aschaffenburg (TH AB), an ASEM COIL Pilot has been launched in May 2020 as a seminar task in the module “International Competencies: Intercultural Cooperation and Communication (ICC)” co-lectured by Prof. Dr. Renate Link, in the framework of the TH AB master’s programme „International Management“.
Thanks to the tightly-knit and varied Asian network of the two lecturers Prof. Dr. Angress and Prof. Dr. Link, all in all, the amazing number of twelve (including TH AB) partner or cooperating universities in both regions – Asia and Europe – were successfully and actively involved in the ASEM COIL Pilot Project:
- the Asia-Europe Institute of the Universiti Malaya (Malaysia), an important stakeholder in the ASEM Education Process,
- Universitas Indonesia,
- Aoyama Gakuin University, Hiroshima Shudo University, Kitami Institute of Technology (Japan),
- the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Vietnam and the Vietnamese-German University,
- Chung-Ang and Sungshin University (South Korea),
- the National Taipei University of Business (Taiwan),
- as well as Parul University (India).
Throughout the whole project period, interactive collaborative tools were used in order to allow students to improve their digital competencies at the same time. On TH AB’s exposition platform, a special virtual ASEM COIL Pilot Project exhibition and meeting space was created.
Results of the COIL Pilot
The pilot project allowed all participants from TH AB and Asia to experience real internationalisation at home and to travel virtually to more Asian countries in just one term than would have been possible with physical visits even in non-pandemic times. In addition to improving their intercultural sensitivity when co-working with Asian peers, students also learnt how to be more patient as well as flexible in international collaboration, e.g. how to cope with the necessity of identifying suitable meeting slots around the globe – just like members of global virtual teams at their future workplace in internationally operating enterprises.
In summary, both the feedback from the participating students and lecturers from TH AB and its Asian counterparts have encouraged the organisers to take the initiative to the next stage in the near future.
The COIL gave the opportunity to the students from Germany and Asia to connect with one another and get more insights on how the culture is in the respective countries. What was important is that stereotypes that might have pre-existed are now replaced with a more accurate image of the Asian countries.
More statements from students can be found here.