Universidad Católica de Manizales (UCM) has found in Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) a strategy to get the community involved in a project that responds to innovation, creation of new knowledge and use of ICTs initiatives as promoters of learning processes.
COIL starts in 2019 through strategic alliances with people and institutions that share similar interests. The UCM professor connects with his international academic peer and together find similarities with their classes, decide the topic that best suits their interests to finally try to adapt their syllabus without overlooking the academic goals. Each class becomes the beginning of this virtual meeting and prepares the students to respond regarding the content studied. The technological tools that were used make part of the “everyday” devices (computers, headsets and webcams) that shorten distances through applications such as Skype and Zoom allowing students to meet other academic pals in different parts of the world.
Thus, technological tools have been adopted to allow the student to look up information, to share their findings and to agree, not only with people in their course, but also with students around the world with similar interests, but variable points of view according to their contexts, so that they can stand their ground considering the multiple options of knowledge that can be generated.
The number of meetings varies according to the interest of the UCM professor and his international peer (minimum 2 and maximum 5 during an academic semester per course).
Each meeting has a maximum duration of one hour, during which each UCM student meets his or her international partner for certain purposes: to get to know who they are, to sympathize with their cultural context and to discuss topics related to the particularities of the subject. Classes including more than two sessions aim to have a project for the last virtual encounter allowing both partners to interact as means to answer a simple question or need. They must consider specific content of the subject and their prior knowledge about it. Each virtual session ends with a class discussion where experiences and new knowledge are shared in favor of nourishing the student’s learning process.
In this sense, UCM has carried out this cooperative work with the United States, Mexico, Brazil and Canada. In 2020, particularly with Canada, three professors from UCM met virtually with three professors from Dalhousie University in Canada. Each academic group met and planned two sessions considering the topics scheduled for the classes and the English level of their students, keeping in mind that both institutions are interested in teaching English as a foreign language. The first virtual session led students to get to know their virtual partner and general cultural aspects, and the second one was intended to deal with specific topics of each class. The application used was Zoom for the virtual meetings between teachers and students.
The UCM advances in academic innovation, international cooperation and internationalization at home by making use of ICTs. The technological tools are there, the applications exist and the curricular planning is given. In the words of Peter Ferdinand Drucker: ” The most productive innovation is a different product or service creating a new potential satisfaction, rather than an improvement”.
If you, or your institution, are interested in joining this community of practice, we, Universidad Católica de Manizales, are interested in developing Collaborative Online International Learning projects with you.
Matias Andres Marin, Director of International Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sandra Julieth Valencia, UCM Professor, email@example.com
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