Global Virtual Exchange Classes
What is G-VEC?
Global Virtual Exchange Classes (G-VEC) are a newer initiative for UIC. Sometimes referred to as virtual exchange or COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning), it is a pedagogy that embeds a virtual collaborative learning activity, project, or module in a course. G-VEC connects students and faculty with their counterparts at another institution abroad. As the SUNY COIL Center further explains:
“It connects you and a colleague in another country to develop collaborative projects that your students do together across time zones, language differences and geographical distance using online tools. It becomes one aspect of your course, supporting your student learning goals, giving you and your students the opportunity to engage hands-on with your course concepts and new ideas and – most importantly – exploring them from different cultural perspectives.”
While the Study Abroad Office is committed to providing students with the opportunity to take their learning abroad, we recognize that not every student may have the chance to do so. G-VEC, then, represents another method to help internationalize the curriculum and provide students with exposure to diverse perspectives. Accordingly, we are available to help faculty members plan a G-VEC project for an existing or new course, connecting you with international partners, identifying appropriate technology, and integrating intercultural learning activities and measures.
G-VEC Models, Development Process, and Resources
Please explore these sections for additional information regarding Global Virtual Exchange Classrooms (G-VEC).
While G-VEC projects share similar aspects such as using technology to connect individuals from at least two classrooms in different countries, there are many different forms that an actual G-VEC project could take.
A G-VEC project could be one synchronous class discussion between students at different institutions.
A G-VEC project could also be two synchronous class discussions between students at different institutions (one at the beginning, one at the end) and asynchronous discussion board activity between the students.
A G-VEC project could be a group project or presentation that pairs students from different institutions together.
A G-VEC project could be an assignment that asks students to send video recordings of their responses to questions posed by students from a different institution.
A G-VEC project could encompass multiple assignments between students at two different institutions throughout the duration of an entire course.
In short, there are many models for a G-VEC project. In order to develop an appropriate project, it is important that faculty members at both institutions consider:
- the learning objectives of their respective course
- what learning platforms and technological resources are needed and available – to each side
- what intercultural interactions between students will lead to the desired learning objectives
- how each faculty member will help students process the intercultural interactions they have
The Study Abroad Office is happy to support faculty members interested in developing a G-VEC project for a new or existing course. The developmental process can be summarized in 5 short steps, as illustrated by this infographic. Due to the developmental timeline, faculty are encouraged to begin planning at least one semester in advance of when they would like to offer the G-VEC project.
- Meet with an SAO representative to discuss your course and idea for a G-VEC project. We will help you consider important developmental considerations such as the time frame for the project, technological needs, and intercultural activities that might support your learning objectives.
- The SAO will identify potential international partners. Thanks to our robust network of international partners, we can help identify colleagues abroad who share similar academic areas of interest or who have expertise in the subject area of interest for the G-VEC project.
- Work with international colleagues to develop the project. You will design the G-VEC project in close coordination with international colleagues from the chosen partnering institution.
- Students collaborate with their international peers. Once your course begins, students will collaborate with their international peers during the G-VEC module of your course. Consider building in icebreaker activities as a way to build more collaborative teams and allow students to explore cultural differences.
- Help students process cultural interactions through facilitated reflection. Simply participating in the G-VEC project is usually not sufficient; in order for students to fully process the intercultural interactions they’ve had, faculty members should incorporate opportunities for facilitated reflection to help students unpack what they’ve experienced.
There are a few institutions who have been facilitating virtual exchange/COIL projects and sharing lessons learned with the higher education community. You are encouraged to visit their websites for ample information and resources related to virtual exchange:
- SUNY COIL Center
- Coventry University
- DePaul University – Global Learning Experience
- Tec de Monterrey (UIC strategic partner)
- U.S. – Russia University Partnership Program
Purdue University’s Center for Intercultural Learning, Mentorship, Assessment, and Research (CILMAR) has created the Hub for Intercultural Learning (HUBICL), an online repository for activities, curricula, research, and more related to intercultural learning. Membership and access is free.
Join the International Flames Network
UIC is looking for international higher education partners who are also engaged in global virtual exchange programming to join our International Flames Network. Joining the network will enable us to help match interested partners from abroad with UIC faculty members seeking a partner for a G-VEC program and vice versa. There is no cost to join the network, please just indicate your interest by completing this brief form.
Other Virtual Enhancements for Classes
The SAO works with a number of partners around the world who can help faculty enhance their courses with other virtual opportunities. Some examples include:
- International expert guest lecturers
- Virtual internships
- Virtual team challenges
- Case studies and competitions
If you would like to explore these or other options as a way to add an experiential element and internationalize your course, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Below we share some current opportunities being promoted by some of our partners.
- The Austral Group – the Austral Group connects universities and companies to solve real-world business challenges through consulting programs, online customized programs, and business challenges.
- The Global Learning Collective – The Global Learning Collective is a consortia of smaller education abroad providers who represent different regions of the world. They can facilitate a number of virtual international experiences including virtual team projects and case study competitions.