What is Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)?

COIL, also referred to as globally networked learning and virtual exchange, is a teaching and learning paradigm that promotes the development of intercultural competence across shared multicultural learning environments. Through the use of Internet-based tools and innovative online pedagogies, COIL fosters meaningful exchanges between university-level teachers and students with peers in geographically distant locations and from different lingua-cultural backgrounds. Our method links a class at one institution with another at a college or university in another country or cultural setting. COIL enhanced courses are bi-lateral and team-taught by educators who collaborate to develop a shared syllabus that emphasizes experiential and collaborative student-centered learning. In most cases students are enrolled, charged tuition (if any), and awarded grades only at their home institution. While the COIL component takes place solely online, the individual courses may be fully online or, more often, are offered in blended formats with traditional face-to-face sessions taking place at both schools.

A key element of COIL is the development of intercultural communicative competence and it is important to note that interaction alone is not sufficient for developing this competence.

Intercultural competence must be intentionally addressed by the educators collaborating to develop the exchange in the way they design tasks and student learning outcomes. Although you may have international experience and consider yourself interculturally competent, as may your partner, this does not necessarily mean you have the knowledge and skills to translate these competences into tasks that will promote their development in your students.

Source: SUNY COIL Center: Guide for COIL Course Development

Why add COIL to my course?

Are you interested in creating opportunities for your students to interact virtually with students and faculty overseas? Do you want to deepen your students’ cross-cultural skills and global outlook? Adding a COIL component to your course allows you to create these experiences for your students. COIL provides an option for faculty who want to add a global dimension to a current course or for those who want to build a new course with a foundation grounded in global engagement. COIL enhance students’ global engagement opportunities because they can interact with students at peer institutions without having to leave NYC.

COIL @ Baruch

In Spring 2018, the Office of Global Initiatives at Baruch College launched the Baruch College Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Faculty Fellows program. Working closely with the Center for Teaching and Learning and with support from the Baruch Technology and Computer Center (BCTC), the program will provided faculty support in the development of COIL-type courses. Learn more about the program here.


Interested to see examples? The SUNY COIL Center has documented several collaborations across disciplines, including the humanities, management and entrepreneurship.