COIL: Collaborative Online International Learning

What is COIL: Collaborative Online International Learning?

Definition: COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) is a cost-effective way of offering international education, global learning, and intercultural experiences to UA students in all disciplines. COIL links students and faculty across borders for shared teaching and learning experiences using a wide variety of online communication methods.  

Methodology & Purpose: The COIL methodology does not involve a set curriculum or delivery platform. Rather, it is a flexible framework for developing courses, connecting institutions, faculty and students, and supporting institutional goals for student learning and engagement. COIL can help UA colleges and departments achieve goals for delivering global learning and cross-cultural experiences to a larger number of students. It is an ideal vehicle for achieving Goal #1 in UA’s Strategic Plan: “Provide a premier undergraduate and graduate education that offers a global perspective and is characterized by outstanding teaching, high-quality scholarship and distinctive curricular and co-curricular programs.” 

Origins: The State University of New York’s (SUNY) COIL Center was created in 2006 and develops and disseminates a wealth of information regarding COIL. COIL (also referred to as virtual exchange) has been adopted by a wide variety of institution types across the U.S. and around the world. In addition, the American Council on Education (ACE) has recognized the COIL methodology for over a decade. In 2018, UA received a small ACE grant to initiate COIL activities with a partner institution in Japan (see below).

ACE US-Japan COIL Initiative at UA

ACE Grant:  In August of 2018, UA, along with five other institutions across the U.S., was selected to participate in the ACE U.S-Japan COIL Initiative.  The Initiative was a pilot program supported through a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and was coordinated in partnership with the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT).

Workshop: In October of 2018, ACE hosted a course development workshop in Washington, DC for the U.S. institutions and their Japanese partners. The SUNY COIL Center also partnered with ACE to provide professional development support to the institutional teams.  The UA team consisted of Cory Callahan, College of Education; Leigh Dickson, College of Nursing; Kevin Halbrook, Center for Instructional Technology; and Carolina Robinson, Capstone International Center/Education Abroad.

Japanese Partner: Each U.S. institution partnered with an institution in Japan to expand U.S.-Japan higher education ties through COIL.  Faculty collaborated on joint syllabi, and students in each country worked together to complete assignments with shared learning objectives for courses offered in 2019.  UA worked with Chiba University.  Chiba is a comprehensive research university located just outside of Tokyo and is a long-time partner of UA.

Dr. Callahan and Dr. Dickson communicated with their counterparts in Japan, Dr. Katsuki Umeda (Faculty of Education) and Dr. David Casenove (College of Nursing) throughout the spring and summer of 2019 and their respective COIL courses took place during the fall of 2019.  The nursing students exchanged information on healthcare systems and family-centered care.  The education students explored similarities in social studies education between the U.S. and Japan; refined their understanding of international education; and shared ideas for a wise-practice activity for secondary students in both countries.

In addition to the two initial collaborations that were part of the ACE Grant, a number of other COIL course connections evolved from the collaboration with Chiba and were supported with funding from MEXT. These are listed in the table below along with other COIL courses that were supported by other initiatives and funding sources.

Case Study: Dr. Yoshie Takamitsu (Chiba University) and Dr. Tayler Kent (University of Alabama) co author an article titled “Providing opportunities for participation in intercultural activities through Collaborative Online International Learning : a case study of COIL between Chiba University and the University of Alabama” in the Journal of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Chiba University.

UA Professor Course & Semester Partner Institution Partner Instructor Additional Information
Cory Callahan Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022 Chiba University, Chiba, Japan Katsuki Umeda Faculty Technology Showcase Program
George Daniels Fall 2022 University of Liverpool Amal Abu-Bakar Funded through the UK Fulbright Commission Global Challenges Teaching Award
Leigh Dickson Nursing Honors
by Contract
Fall 2019
Chiba University, Chiba, Japan David Casenove
Laurie Arizumi JA 101
Fall 2019
Chiba University, Chiba, Japan Yoshie Takamitsu
Tayler Kent CIP 200 Intro to Global
& Cultural Perspectives
Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2024
Chiba University, Chiba, Japan Yoshie Takamitsu Published case study on COIL between UA and Chiba University co-authored by both instructors.
Doris Sung ARH 356
Spring 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Fall 2023
Chiba University, Chiba, Japan Maho Sato Video Showcase
Chika Kobayashi JA 101, 201
Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022
Chiba University, Chiba, Japan Yoshie Takamitsu, Moe Otsuka
Amy Taylor &
Marci Daugherty
MA TESOL students
Spring 2020, Spring 2021
Chiba University, Chiba, Japan Yoshie Takamitsu, Moe Otsuka
Debra Nelson-Gardell SW 444, 490, 501
Spring 2020, Spring 2021
University of Ghana Doris Boateng Funded by US Council on Social Work Education – Kendall Institute
COIL-JUSU Program at Chiba University


COIL Resources

From ACE:

Internationalization in Action Series, Special Edition, Connecting Classrooms: Using Online Technology to Deliver Global Learning

Bringing the World Into the Classroom: ACE Award to Recognize the Innovative Use of Technology to Promote Internationalization (examples)

From AAC&U (American Association of Colleges & Universities:

Virtual Exchange/Collaborative Online International Learning

From COIL Connect:

Find a partner university. Click on “Become a General Member” from the opening page to create an account and explore the site.

From Florida International University:

Collaborative Online International Learning Resources

From the Stevens Initiative:

A wide variety of resources, examples, grants, and reports are available from their website.

From SUNY’s COIL Center:

Examples of COIL courses