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Source: Auckland University of Technology (AUT)

27 Oct, 2020

2020 has truly been a year that has challenged us all to think differently and work in new ways.

With all AUT overseas study programmes suspended until further notice, Manager of Learning Abroad Jacklyn Lim looked for ways to ensure students could still have an international experience.

When Senior Lecturer Lindsay Neill approached Jacklyn with an idea, she jumped at the opportunity to support it. Lindsay, who teaches the Master of Gastronomy, had an opportunity to collaborate with a lecturer from Stockton University in New Jersey, to develop a ‘virtual exchange’ for their students.

Together with Jacklyn, they selected the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) model using Lindsay’s project as the pilot. The model, which is a brainchild of the State University of New York, aims to ‘deepen global engagement of students bounded by their location, through digital technology that links university classes between different countries’.

In their COIL project, Lindsay and Heather Swenson Brilla (from Stockton University, with guidance from JY Zhou) paired their students up and asked them to discuss the social and cultural constructs around breakfast food in the US and the significance of the ANZAC biscuit for New Zealanders. Lindsay also recorded a lecture for Heather’s class, and Heather did the same for Lindsay’s students.

Lindsay says his goal was for his students to have a cultural exchange that went beyond just breakfast foods and ANZAC biscuits. “Students started exchanging experiences they’ve had this year with COVID-19 and how their countries were coping with the pandemic. This was exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for. At a time when students could be feeling quite isolated, it was really important to me that this project helped to create meaningful interaction,” says Lindsay.

The project proved popular with Lindsay’s class, with lots of positive feedback. “This experience was fun and interesting because of the opportunity to meet and interact with other students [from overseas]. We had a great time discussing our differences and similarities, and I’m very thankful we were able to do something like this,” says Yashneil Kumar, one of Lindsay’s students.

Jacklyn says this model will be valuable in helping to keep our existing partner universities engaged until students are able to travel abroad again. The success of this pilot has also inspired her to continue this even after the borders are open.

“I can see this working in parallel to our existing overseas study programmes. This is an inclusive and economical way for students to access international experiences. We hope it will help us achieve AUT’s 2025 goal of 100% of our students having an international experience as part of their studies,” says Jacklyn.

She is currently working with more schools and faculties to develop COIL projects with our existing and prospective partner universities and hopes to have these in place for Semester One, 2021.

If you are interested in finding out more about COIL and how you could participate, please contact jacklyn.lim@aut.ac.nz.

A slide from the Stockton University Social Construction of Breakfast Presentation

MIL OSI