Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)

Collaborative Online Learning (COIL), a type of Virtual Exchange, is a web-based global teaching and learning methodology designed to foster faculty and student interaction with peers abroad through co-taught intercultural online and blended learning environments. COIL emphasizes sustained student collaboration to increase intercultural skills. COIL utilizes online technology to connect faculty in any discipline across national boundaries and brings together any intercultural pairings where in-person contact is not practical.

Graduates, regardless of their fields, will go on to highly globalized communities and workplaces. Thus, it is imperative that every student is well-prepared for this reality.

Diversity/Global Learning is a well-recognized high-impact educational practice.

Institutions that add COIL often do so for the numerous potential educational benefits, such as: “global exposure; cross-cultural interaction and familiarity; intercultural communicative competence…; peer-to-peer learning; awareness of one’s own culture, identity, and assumptions; critical thinking; and perspective-taking.” (Ward, 2016, p. 5)

COIL is a broadly accessible form of global learning. The American Council on Education writes, “While some of the technologies available to support teaching and learning across international borders are expensive, there are comparatively low-tech, low-cost options that can provide opportunities for profound cross-cultural learning. For example, students can use social networking to collaborate across borders. This ubiquitous technology is inexpensive, widely familiar to students around the world, and easily supports asynchronous collaboration for students in different time zones who share common competing demands from work and family” (2011, p. 23).

Getting Started

COIL Resources

For more information about this program, please contact Sarah Pattison at