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Collaborative Online International Learning, or COIL, is a virtual mobility methodology, a digital global project, and a powerful cross-cultural learning experience.

Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) is an approach that brings students and professors together across cultures to learn, discuss and collaborate as part of their class. Professors partner to design the experience, and students partner to complete the activities designed. COIL becomes part of the class, enabling all students to have a significant intercultural experience within their course of study.

--SUNY COIL Center

COIL is teaching and learning method that fosters cross-cultural student competence through development of multicultural learning environments that link university courses in different countries. Students situated in separate countries enroll in a shared module within their respective courses with faculty members from each country collaborating on module design and co-managing coursework but conducting assessment of their own students.  

COIL enables the creation of co-equal learning environments wherein instructors work together to generate a combined learning experience, emphasizing experiential and collaborative student learning while promoting generation of new knowledge, broadened participant perspectives, and intercultural learning outcomes.

Benefits of COIL for students

  • Development of skills for today’s workplace, including remote collaboration, digital literacy, and the ability to work and communicate effectively in multicultural teams
  • Increased understanding of interdependency, new knowledge of cultures, and perspective-taking
  • Access to impactful global learning for students for whom international travel is not possible

Developing and delivering COIL projects

  1. Identify the new or modified course in which you would like to embed a COIL project.
  2. Identify an international teaching partner with whom you will collaborate. (Remember, it is not necessary for your two courses to be of the same discipline – for example, sociology students and business students may be interested in examining consumer behavior.)
  3. Work with your partner to determine learning objectives and co-design the COIL project.
  4. Determine the digital platform for the COIL project (Zoom, Google Drive, Whatsapp, blogs, etc.)   
  5. Co-facilitate the COIL project through the synchronous or asynchronous collaboration of your students.  
  6. Assess your own students in the COIL project.
  7. Debrief your COIL project with your international partner, students, and through self-reflection.

Finding international teaching partners for COIL projects

Partners can be identified through personal and professional networks or through MSU’s membership in the SUNY COIL Global Network, which offers resources lists and periodic “Partnering Fairs” that match instructors for potential collaboration. For questions about MSU’s membership in the SUNY COIL Global Network, contact Opal Leeman Bartzis, EdD.

Credit for COIL

Because COIL entails a shared module intentionally embedded within two courses, credit for the COIL experience is part of the regular credit allocation for the courses; COIL presents no issues of credit transfer between the cooperating universities. There are no financial agreements necessary for the cooperating institutions, as tuition is not being transferred and participating faculty are not delivering instruction for one another but are instead facilitating an adaptable group project of their student cohorts.

Learn more about COIL

The MSU Office for Education Abroad holds periodic informational sessions on COIL for the MSU community. Additionally, the SUNY COIL Global Network offers introductory webinars for the public throughout the academic year. These are typically held on the second Wednesday of the month at 12 PM. For a closer look at all aspects of COIL, professional development workshops are available from the SUNY COIL Global Network to MSU at a discounted rate.

COIL pedagogy was initially developed by faculty at the University of New York (SUNY) with support from SUNY System Administration's Office of International Programs and the SUNY Learning Network. The most robust resource site for COIL, including sample COILed courses, is available at COIL Center - SUNY.