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Teaching and Learning

Digital Teaching Across Borders

Image in the public domain.

Earlier this month, I attended a CETLS session about COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning), an opportunity for classes at BMCC to connect with other classes around the world. At this session, Experiential Learning and Study Abroad Manager Jessica Levin and participants in the Spring 2019 COIL initiative came together to share their experiences with this new (to BMCC) program.

Through COIL, classrooms can partner across disciplines, serving as a “virtual study abroad” program in which students gain international exposure, global competences, and real-world problem-solving skills. Moreover, students have an opportunity to find friends across the globe who can give them access to new ways of approaching current events or language acquisition.

The courses that partner for COIL can be online, hybrid, or in-person and the partnership usually lasts a minimum of four weeks. Instructors are responsible for finding a corresponding instructor in a different country  to work with, though Jessica’s office can help put out feelers for interested instructors who don’t have a direct international connections. Instructors determine for themselves whether the COIL component of the course will be graded, what digital platform will be used for the assignment, and whether the interaction between students will be synchronous or asynchronous.

At this COIL session, Professors Schneur Zalman Newfield (Social Sciences, Human Services, and Criminal Justice) and Deniz Gokcora (Academic Literacy and Linguistics) shared their experiences implementing COIL in their Fall 2019 classes. Zalman’s Sociology course focuses on immigration and intercultural understanding, so a partnership with a class in Argentina is helping his students develop cultural sensitivity and a deeper understanding of immigration issues. He emphasized the importance of finding the right teaching partner so that the level of commitment is shared, and being adaptable when issues arise. Some of the issues he and his partner faced included students being reluctant to speak to each other on the phone and scheduling conflicts across time zones.

Deniz worked with a partner from the University of Bahamas to create a joint course website that allows students to share screenshots and voice overs with language partners, while analyzing select readings for the course. Unfortunately, this collaboration was delayed by Hurricane Dorian, so students are just beginning to work together, later in the semester than originally planned.

If COIL sounds like something you’d like to try, BMCC is offering a Spring 2020 seminar to help you prepare to teach a COIL course in Fall 2020. The seminar will help instructors develop COIL assignments consistent with the learning outcomes for the course, provide guidance for collaborating with an international partner, and help instructors think through technologies to support the COIL portion of the class. Applications for the seminar are due Monday, November 4. Any questions about the program can be directed to Jessica Levin.

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