Coaching COIL – UAS7 Virtual Academy Coaching Sessions in Full Swing
Balancing synchronous and asynchronous teaching; selecting the right technology tool and preparing students for international collaboration – these were just some of the many topics which were covered in the first round of the UAS7 Virtual Academy’s Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) coaching sessions held in early January 2021.
Virtual and blended mobility between Germany and the United States
The nine teaching teams are composed of lecturers from members of the UAS7 German Universities of Applied Science and the State University of New York (SUNY). These teams which cover six disciplines will soon be embarking on collaborative projects which will mean students in Germany and the United States will have the chance to interact and learn with and from their international counterparts.
Participating lecturers, project coordinators and members of e-learning teams at the UAS7 members will be taking part in a three-part coaching session with Jan McCauley, Assistant Director of the SUNY COIL Center. The aim of these coaching sessions is to equip stakeholders from across the UAS7 universities of applied science with the tools and knowledge required for their current and future online international learning projects.
Planning, engaging with culture and technology tools in COIL projects
The coaching sessions include tips on how to facilitate the exchange of information between the students in view of timing differences (different semester start dates etc.) and how to prepare students for the in-person element of their projects through online relationship-building and exchange of local knowledge. Video in particular offers a wealth of opportunities for students in Germany and the United States to introduce their counterparts abroad to the conditions on the ground, thereby providing a foundation for their cultural exchange.
Planning was highlighted as an integral part of COIL projects. Teaching teams were advised to start by identifying broad shared goals and then plotting the specific steps required to reach the goals and the outcomes students should achieve. Outlining activities that help students to engage with culture when online was also encouraged, as was the need for planning for how to deal with potential intercultural misunderstandings and making students aware of the importance of cultural sensitivity.
What I noticed was the great enthusiasm of the professors, from both sides. Everyone is really keen on this project and is positive about creating a great class despite the difficult conditions.
The choice of technology platform or tool to be used during the project was highlighted as a key part of the planning process. Ease of use and accessibility across international institutions is of course key, as are considerations of neutrality, i.e. ensuring that there is not an inbalance in the familiarity of students with the platform. A platform or tool that is either used at both institutions or an entirely new platform for both groups of students offers a third, more neutral space.
The transatlantic teaching teams are continuing with the planning phase of their projects, including reaching out to the project coordinators and e-learning staff, and will be taking part in another two coaching sessions with the SUNY COIL Center over the coming weeks.
About the UAS7 Virtual Academy and SUNY COIL Center
The UAS7 Virtual Academy brings together students from Germany and the United Sates in virtual and blended mobility formats. In its pilot phase, nine transatlantic projects in six disciplines will lay the foundations for a future digital collaboration format to be expanded over the coming months and years.
The UAS7 Virtual Academy will be rolled out in cooperation with the UAS7‘s long-standing U.S. consortium partner State University of New York (SUNY). It will redesign international university cooperation across all disciplines and establish new innovative teaching and learning formats.
The birthplace of collaborative online international learning, the SUNY COIL Center has over sixteen years of experience conducting, fostering and providing training related to such projects. Members of the Virtual Academy will be benefitting from this experience over the course of their projects.