COIL: Collaborative Online International Learning

The Applied Language Institute (ALI) and the Study Abroad and Global Engagement (SAGE) office are now piloting a few opportunities for Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) and other virtual exchanges at UMKC. This initiative emerged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a cost-effective internationalization strategy to connect UMKC classrooms, professors, research projects, and student groups with international partners. Our immediate goal is to establish a global network for learning.

What is COIL?

COIL is a type of virtual exchange of students and faculty between universities, colleges, and non-profit organizations where learning is the primary purpose. To understand COIL, take a closer look at each part of the acronym:

  • C for Collaboration – teachers and/or students from partner institutions must collaborate to complete learning goals
  • O for Online – online technology and interaction is the medium for learning
  • I for International – international partners can connect their classrooms and exchange ideas and information without having to physically cross borders
  • L for Learning – learning outcomes include intercultural communication, digital literacy, and the content agreed upon by the international partners

In this sense, COIL provides online opportunities for international partners to collaborate on an agreed upon set of learning outcomes. With the appropriate training and guidance, all participants develop intercultural communication and digital literacy skills as a result of participating in a COIL project or course.

Phase 1 – Connections

We help connect professors from other universities to UMKC professors. In Summer 2020, we have been working with several professors in UMKC’s College of Arts & Sciences, where we have identified one COIL program already in progress. Professor of History and Public Humanities, Dr. Andrew Bergerson and his counterparts in Germany, Austria, and Poland are collaborating on a digital humanities project on German migration to Missouri. The first publication from this project is available here. Not only does this project involve international partners, but it also includes collaboration with the University of Missouri St. Louis (UMSL). In addition to Dr. Bergerson’s course, our pilot includes the Department of Foreign Languages and the Department of Architecture, Urban Planning + Design.

We plan to expand our COIL partnerships beyond the disciplines in the College of Arts & Sciences over the next few years. If you are interested in virtual exchanges and COIL, please email the Assistant Dean of the Applied Language Institute, Jeremy D. Slagoski at

Phase 2 – Establish Partnerships

Once connections between classrooms, professors, student groups, and departments are made, then we begin working on developing the COIL projects by determining the level of commitment from all parties and how labor will be divided. On the UMKC end, the ALI and SAGE will offer services to help with logistical, technical, and cultural support.

  • Logistical support – coordinating synchronous and/or asynchronous learning across time zones and different academic calendars
  • Technical support – enrolling both UMKC and international students on Canvas if necessary, providing support with video conferencing and other interactive communication technologies
  • Cultural support – helping to bridge language and culture barriers that may interrupt the collaborative process

For international partners, we can also provide logistical and cultural support. If our international partners prefer that we use Canvas for COIL, then we will charge a technology access and support fee.

Phase 3 – Develop Curriculum

This stage is mainly conducted by the professors or students in charge of leading the COIL project with at least one representative from each side. It is advisable that no new course has to be developed. Instead existing courses can be modified to include a COIL component.

Sample COIL Models

Student ProjectShared Course AShared Course BShared Full Course
Students are assigned a project to interact with students from the partner institution for a grade

These interactions are done outside of any synchronous class time

Students choose when and how to meet
A UMKC course and a partner course share an online discussion platform and other asynchronous tools that is mediated and graded by the respective instructors

The student project from the first column can be integrated into this model as well
A UMKC course and a partner course choose a time to meet synchronously at least once a week to share presentations, discussions, and other synchronous interactions

The student activities from the first two columns can be integrated into this model as well
A UMKC instructor and an instructor from a partner institution agree to either modify an existing course or create a new course to offer their respective students that provides COIL in multiple modalities, including the student activities from the other columns.
• Cultural information report
• Current events discussion
• Interviews
• Problem solving
• Reacting to a reading or video
• Same as examples to the left
• Plus an asynchronous assessment, such as a quiz or test
• Each instructor can assess their students differently
• In-person or hybrid UMKC courses require a room set up for video conferencing
• Courses don’t have to match up as long as there is one unit that shares similar content and learning outcomes
• Each instructor can assess their students differently
Examples of courses
• Intercultural Communication
• English Composition
• Rhetoric
• International Law
• Transnational Trade
• Civil Engineering
• Modern Architecture
• Gender Roles
One week on average2-4 weeks2-4 weeks~8 or 16 weeks

Phase 4 – Registration & Enrollment

International students may need to register and enroll as guests to a UMKC COIL course if the faculty members believe that access to UMKC’s learning management system (Canvas) and other technical services or support from UMKC is needed. If that is the case, then international students may be expected to pay a nominal fee for access. However, currently they will not receive credit from UMKC. All credit is given by the home institution.