Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)

The Global Citizenship Certificate began its first COIL initiative during the 2019-2020 academic year in the certificate’s required course, Global Perspectives.

What is COIL?

Collaborative Online International Learning is an emerging, innovative way to provide students with an intercultural experience in their domestic classroom. It provides a global learning environment similar to a study-abroad program without having to leave the classroom.

How does a COIL project work?

Typically, a COIL project takes place throughout a course section that is co-developed by professors in at least two different countries. The project consists of students from at least two universities in different countries collaborating to learn through one another. The three formats of COIL projects are face-to-face, online, or a hybrid of the two. Student groups can meet through video conferencing tools, online discussion groups, and online work projects. The project typically lasts over a few weeks and ends with a final, goal-oriented project between the student groups.

Benefits of COIL

COIL projects complement the Global Citizenship Certificate’s goals of preparing our students for a multicultural environment and diverse workforce.

More specifically, participating students:

  • Develop critical thinking and team-building skills.
  • Take part in intercultural communication and learn different perspectives.
  • Enhance their technological skills through their online interactions.
  • Can experience an inexpensive intercultural exchange without having to leave the classroom.


Students enrolled in IDS 2431: Global Perspectives course are collaborating with students enrolled in different courses at FATECs, São Paulo State Technological Colleges in Brazil. Two students from FSU are paired with two students from Fatec Americana and will contact each other throughout the semester to get to know each other and their culture.

The program consists of 4 contacts with the Brazilian students and a final project:

Contact 1: Students have a week to initiate the first contact with each other on the mobile app, Whatsapp. During their first conversation, they will get to know each other for an hour by answering some “ice breaker” questions.

Contact 2: The following week, students will contact each other again on Whatsapp, but will focus on discussing each other’s cultural differences based on Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions, which was discussed in the Global Perspectives class. FSU students will explain to the Fatec students what they learned in class and answer questions about their own culture. This activity will conclude with students writing a reflection on cultural dimensions.

Contact 3: The following week, students will focus on each other’s conflict style (how one views, manages, and expresses conflict) and how it relates to one’s culture. This activity will conclude with students writing a reflection on intercultural conflict communication.

Contact 4: Two weeks later, students will have the freedom to ask their cultural partner anything they would like, such as popular culture trends, foods, sports, social issues, or further explore a topic that their partner cares deeply about. After the open conversation, students will write a reflection on what they learned from their partner.

Final Project: After getting to know each other through all their previous contacts, the two FSU and two FATEC students will create a collaborative YouTube video to present about each other’s culture. The video will be informational and focus on all aspects of Brazilian and American culture, life, and society.

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