Global Course Connections

The Global Course Connections program has offered 95 internationally connected courses since 2015. Also known as Virtual Exchange / Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), these kinds of courses are being developed at colleges and universities around the globe as a high impact, low-cost approach to bring global perspectives into a course to give students exposure to other parts of the world and other ways of thinking by exploring the course’s topics through different content and perspectives.

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What are Globally Connected Courses?

Global Course Connections “connects” courses offered on Alliance campuses in different countries providing the courses with an international dimension that provides a different cultural lens to one’s discipline and enriches course content to develop a range of intercultural skills, including practicing deep listening, increasing awareness of others and one’s own cultural self-awareness, connecting across difference in a respectful manner, developing empathy, and discovering similarities, especially with those who seem quite different.

Research shows that students in these courses make gains in intercultural understanding, and faculty benefit from the experience as well. Based on assessment of 500 students in Globally Connected Courses spanning 14 countries, The Wiley Handbook of Collaborative Online Learning and Global Engagement presents best practices for faculty developing Globally Connected Courses, including learning objectives, collaborative assignments, and logistical planning. The book’s co-editors Deirdre Johnston (Hope College) and Irene López (Kenyon College) created and facilitated the  2022 and 2023 Global Course Connections workshops.

How does it work?

Connecting courses begins by identifying topics where the courses productively intersect and have a corresponding set of shared learning objectives. The instructors collaboratively develop content and assignments that have students work together across the courses to meet the learning objectives. The resulting connection represents a portion of each course’s syllabus. Each instructor maintains control of their own course and pursues the connected component within the context of the course’s learning goals.

Connected courses need not be the same or from the same discipline. What matters is that the international connection provides novel perspectives on course content that would benefit from having students work together in cross-course groups. Some of the richest course connections have been cross-disciplinary in addition to being cross-cultural. The courses can be new or adaptations of existing courses (see below for courses offered in previous years).

Connected courses provide much more than content knowledge. Courses need not meet synchronously on a regular basis. Some of the most impactful connections have involved work done synchronously and asynchronously in student groups outside of class time.

Faculty Benefits

Course Development – Complement your course with perspectives from the context of another country and possibly another discipline.

Personal and Professional Rejuvenation – Working with a like-minded scholar from another part of the globe whose field overlaps yours in salient ways can provide scholarly rejuvenation.

Professional Development – Further your cultural competencies through co-developing course materials and guiding cross-course student interaction.

Research – Professional relationships with international faculty have led to new scholarship and collaborative research opportunities.

Teaching – Work with an international partner to open new perspectives on the world of teaching and learning.

Students – Challenge your students to think beyond their comfort zone and to produce high quality work.

Student Benefits

Foster Critical Self-Reflection – Engage with peers from other parts of the world to critically reflect on how your own identities and values frame your understanding of yourself, the “other”, and global issues.

Develop Global Soft Skills – Develop transferable global soft skills including emotional intelligence, curiosity, reflective judgment, empowerment, adaptability, resilience, critical thinking, and teamwork.

Apply Multiple Perspectives – Bring multiple disciplinary, cultural, and value perspectives to bear on course content through collaboration with students who have a different cultural and educational background.

Characteristics of an Effective Course Connection

Clear Expectations – Be clear about course goals, global learning objectives, assignments, grading criteria, and expectations for group work.

Critical Thinking – Create assignments that require critical thinking on shared course objectives and content as students explore differences and similarities.

Two-way Interactions – Have students collaboratively engage with course content and processes synchronously as well as asynchronously.

Connections Outside the Classroom – Encourage informal time for students to talk with peers, building on their shared identity as students.

Moderate Level of Connection – Global learning is positively associated with a connection of 5-7 weeks and the richness and number of interpersonal student connections.

Support for Group Work – Provide clear expectations and guidelines for group work; monitor group interactions to ensure all students contribute equally, respectfully, and in a timely manner.

Technology – Use technology that is familiar, easy to use/adopt, and contributes to learning goals. Make technology support available for students who need help.

Model Cultural Competence and Curiosity – Model the behaviors you want to see in your students.

Steps to Participate

  1. List your course: To express interest in finding a course partner, please provide a course description by completing the Course Description Google Form. Your course will appear on the Course Matching page. Note that courses with enrollment over 30 might be difficult to match and manage.
  2. Find a course partner: Visit the fall 2024 and spring 2025 Course Matching Pages to look for a match for your course. Remember, the two courses do not need to be the same, but they must overlap in ways that connecting them provides an international dimension that adds value to both courses. When you find a course that looks promising as a match, contact the instructor to discuss the possibility of connecting your courses.
  3. Submit a Global Course Connection Proposal: Once you have identified a course partner, together you complete a Global Course Connection proposal and the Global Course Connections Information Table. Send the proposal and table to Simon Gray.
  4. Offer the course: Instructors for 2024-25 whose proposal has been accepted and who complete a Globally Connected Course will receive a $500 (USD) stipend at the end of the term after they have completed a course experience survey.

Summer Workshop

The Global Course Connections summer workshop will be held at American University in Bulgaria June 20-24, 2024.

Previous Courses

2024-25 Globally Connected Courses
2023-24 Globally Connected Courses
2022-23 Globally Connected Courses
2021-22 Globally Connected Courses
2020-21 Globally Connected Courses
2019-20 Globally Connected Courses
2018-19 Globally Connected Courses
2017-18 Globally Connected Courses
2016-17 Globally Connected Courses