Virtual GLO FAQ

The following are frequently asked questions about Virtual GLO, also called Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL.) Have a question not answered here? Reach out to: glo [at] (glo[at]mohawkcollege[dot]ca) and review the Virtual GLO Guide for Mohawk Faculty.

  1. What is Virtual GLO/COIL?

"Virtual GLO" is the name we use at Mohawk for our Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) initiative. Many colleges and universities around the world have been implementing COIL projects over the past several years. COIL was established at the SUNY COIL Center and they define COIL this way: “COIL 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.”

  1. Why is Mohawk College offering this to students and what are the benefits?

Virtual GLO/COIL offers the following benefits to students:

  • Provides students with intercultural learning opportunities to become global citizens and graduate with the future ready skill of global competency
    • Global competencies allow students to:
      • work effectively within diverse teams;
      • appreciate and understand diverse perspectives and world views;
      • adapt and be flexible in new or unfamiliar environments
  • Provides cost-effective way for the College to ensure more students can participate in global learning opportunities, without the expense and risk of in-person travel
  • Provides value-add to our curriculum and programs
    • Of high interest to globally-minded prospects
    • Allows Mohawk to compete with other colleges and universities already offering these opportunities
  1. Why would I as a faculty member want to participate and what are the benefits for faculty?

For faculty, the benefits of virtual exchange is that it offers a professional development opportunity to enhance your global competencies while building connections with teachers worldwide, thereby increasing your network for future projects, research, PD, etc. Professors have also found virtual exchange/COIL to be a refreshing way to re-ignite their passion for their industry/profession as they explore how it is practiced in other parts of the world.

  1. What is the purpose?

The purpose of COIL is to provide experiential learning opportunities for Mohawk College students while developing skills needed in today’s global workplace such as intercultural competence, teamwork, flexibility and intercultural communication skills.

  1. Who is eligible to participate?

To receive a Virtual GLO/COIL 4.5 hour/week release, faculty must be full-time. A Selection Committee made up of stakeholders from across the College will review applications and select proposals to proceed in the winter 2023 semester. Faculty must be open to sharing the results of the project with the International department and colleagues. See the Virtual GLO/COIL Framework for further information.

  1. How do I get started?

Begin by exploring this FAQ, the resources under the last question in this FAQ and the Virtual GLO/COIL Framework. You may also wish to explore the Virtual GLO Faculty Guide which outlines the process for setting up a successful Virtual GLO. Also you might want to reach out to your Program Coordinator, Associate Dean or Dean to discuss with them your desire to participate.  Email glo [at] (subject: Virtual%20GLO) (glo[at]mohawkcollege[dot]ca) if you have any questions.

  1. What support is offered to me?

Once you express interest, a member of the International & Partnerships team will meet with you to discuss how you would like to develop a COIL (timing, partners, activities, etc.) If you do not have a partner, we will see if there is a partner suitable for your area of study within our partner network. The International department has developed several modules in MyCanvas about intercultural competencies development that can be utilized in the COIL program, if needed.

  1. What has Mohawk College done so far?

In winter of 2021, Mohawk College was the recipient of an Innovation grant from CICAN to fund a COIL project. Professor Tracey Kadish partnered with a professor at the Jobs Academy in Italy to embed a COIL opportunity in one course in the Tourism program. Students in both classes participated in workshops, activities, the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) assessment, guest lectures and case studies. Students commented that they found the experience extremely beneficial for their personal and professional growth and Professor Kadish expressed that the experience was the “highlight” of her career.

  1. Do other institutions offer COIL/virtual exchange?
    Many Ontario colleges offer this type of opportunity to their faculty and students. For example, Humber College, Conestoga College, Centennial College and Durham College.

  2. What are the expectations if I choose to participate?

Typically, professors will need to spend several hours planning the COIL project in advance, meeting with their partner virtually at last once before the experience, during and afterwards. Professors are encouraged to use the Virtual GLO Guide For Faculty to plan their Virtual GLO. Typically, the following would be discussed during this planning period:

    • Learning goals and outcomes of the exchange opportunity
    • Challenges – e.g. technology (e.g., LMS or other collaborative online platform), time zones, language barriers, etc. -  and how these will be addressed
    • Learning outcomes of the courses in which the COIL is being implemented – are there common learning outcomes? How can these be leveraged within the learning opportunity to enable global learning outcomes?
    • Technology to be used for any synchronous learning
    • Asynchronous versus Synchronous learning activities and how these will be utilized
    • Philosophy of teaching at both institutions – e.g., active learning, problem-based learning, traditional vs. flipped models, etc.
    • Learning management systems in use at each institution and how to facilitate access to online resources (e.g. Google Drive, etc.)
    • A learning plan for the activities to be undertaken as part of the COIL opportunity – ensuring deep learning is possible through the various learning activities

During the COIL experience, it is expected that at least some of the meetings will occur in a synchronous format; however it is completely up to the professors how they wish to structure the COIL project. Some possibilities are:

  • 1-2 synchronous classes where both classes meet. These could comprise: a meet-and-greet for all students; presentations by students in one class to the other; guest lectures where all students can participate and ask questions; case study projects where students meet in breakout rooms to collaborate.
  • No synchronous classes but students are instructed to meet with teams from the other school synchronously. Teams can be made up of just two students or of many students, if feasible. Given time zone differences, this approach sometimes works to allow greater flexibility for participants.
  • Asynchronous-only activities. Where it is not possible to meet synchronously due to time zone differences, activities such as collaborative documents, discussions, and recorded presentations can be utilized.
  1. What does a COIL project look like in practice?

There are many possibilities for the format of a COIL project and no prescribed parameters other than the objectives of participants from both countries to collaborate, interact and learn from one another. Some possibilities include:

  • Joint projects where pairs or teams from both countries work together;
  • Synchronous classes where students from both countries interact through videoconferencing or chat;
  • Asynchronous activities where students participate through collaborative online documents, whiteboards, discussion boards;
  • Synchronous/asynchronous activities for a sub-group of students in the class who volunteer to participate in a COIL;
  • Comparative projects where students share perspectives from their home countries either synchronously or asynchronously.
  1. Do I need to find my own international partner?

Professors are welcome to work with partners they have identified or the International & Partnerships department can work to identify potential partners. The College has identified several regions for partnership development. Ideally, trips/partners should reside in these regions but other regions may be considered. See the list of regions. Currently, we have partners in India, Italy, Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago and we could explore opportunities for COIL with these partners if needed.

  1. What further resources can I explore on this topic?

The State University of New York (SUNY) developed the COIL framework and the SUNY COIL Center a great place to start when learning about COIL. Note that some institutions call COIL "Virtual Exchange" so you will see that terminology used in some of the following resources.

Other resources are: