Experiential Learning & Teaching in Higher Education


As the populations of college and university students become more diverse and have more demanding lifestyles, postsecondary institutions are showing greater interest in unconventional and innovative ways to offer students international experiential learning. Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), also known as virtual exchange, connects students in two different countries to investigate global realities from a cross-cultural perspective. With international exchange experiences no longer limited to those in certain majors or with financial means, COIL creates more equitable and sustainable access to international engagement. In this study, we describe a COIL exchange between ESL students at the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and first-year writing students at the University of the Bahamas (UB). The COIL project consisted of two assignment sequences: one on the cultural contexts of education in students’ respective home nations and the other on global social justice issues. We found that COIL collaboration offered students a variety of opportunities, including: to diversify their perspectives; to learn about global social justice issues; to participate in the negotiation of linguistic meaning; and, finally, to try on different identities, such as the position of an expert on their home culture.

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