Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)

Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), a type of virtual exchange or telecollaboration, is a learning process where faculty members in any discipline use online technology to facilitate sustained student collaboration to increase intercultural competence.  Traditionally, COIL has taken place across national boundaries, but this process is ideal for bringing together any intercultural pairings where in-person contact is not practical. 

Why is COIL Important?
  • Graduates, regardless of their fields, will go on to highly globalized communities and workplaces.  Thus, it is imperative that every student is well-prepared for this reality.
  • Diversity/Global Learning is a well-recognized high-impact educational practice.
  • Institutions that add COIL often do so for the numerous potential educational benefits, such as: "global exposure; cross-cultural interaction and familiarity; intercultural communicative competence…; peer-to-peer learning; awareness of one’s own culture, identity, and assumptions; critical thinking; and perspective-taking." (Ward, 2016, p. 5)
  • COIL is a broadly accessible form of global learning.  The American Council on Education writes, “While some of the technologies available to support teaching and learning across international borders are expensive, there are comparatively low-tech, low-cost options that can provide opportunities for profound cross-cultural learning. For example, students can use social networking to collaborate across borders. This ubiquitous technology is inexpensive, widely familiar to students around the world, and easily supports asynchronous collaboration for students in different time zones who share common competing demands from work and family.” (2011, p. 23) 
Getting Started
  • Attend an Introduction to COIL session and/or complete a COIL Interest Form (see below for details on both options)
  • Email the SUNY COIL Center ( to get a free copy of their COIL Course Guide.  
  • See sample COIL syllabi (at the bottom of the linked page)
  • Find an international partner to work with.  If you need help with this, you can contact for assistance
  • Review “Effective Practices and Common Challenges in Virtual Exchange” in the Virtual Exchange Impact and Learning Report (pp. 12-17)

How can I learn more about COIL?

Attend an Introduction to COIL Session
  • Both virtual and in-person sessions are available
  • Email to learn about upcoming sessions or to arrange a session for your department
  • The introduction session covers the following topics:
    • COIL Defined
    • The Importance of COIL for Students
    • The COIL Process
    • Examples of COIL Courses
    • Common Challenges and Effective Strategies
    • Finding a Partner
Fill Out our COIL Interest Form

Interested UM-Dearborn faculty members can fill out our COIL Interest Form to help us learn how we can help you.  

Contact Information

Global Engagement

2200 -
Social Sciences Building (SSB)

Scott Riggs, Director

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