Internationalizing the Curriculum

Internationalizing the Curriculum


Why Internationalize Our Curriculum?

The University experience should enable students to broaden their intellectual horizons and put them on the path to becoming fully engaged citizens. We must encourage our students to reach beyond the comfortable ‘bubble’ of their everyday lives. In this ever-changing world, our graduates should have the knowledge, skills, flexibility and compassion to engage with global issues and to work with people from diverse cultural perspectives. By understanding and employing best practices for enhancing the international content of our curriculum, we can help our students to embrace diversity, understand our human interconnectedness and pursue social justice, wherever their future paths may lead.

Faculty Fellow for Curricular Internationalization

Dr. Robin Danzak, Associate Professor in the College of Health Professions, is the second Faculty Fellow for Internationalization of the Curriculum. Her term is 2017-2019.

Dr. Sara (Sally) Ross, Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Media Arts, was the University’s first Faculty Fellow for Internationalization of the Curriculum. Her term was 2015-2017.  

Internationalization of the curriculum is a key aspect in Sacred Heart’s broader comprehensive internationalization strategy.  An internationalized curriculum integrates intentional international, global, and/or intercultural learning strategies and outcomes to produce globally competent graduates.  The Faculty Fellow plays an important role in the success of curricular internationalization efforts at SHU.  The University’s goal for the fellowship is to further curricular internationalization and create tangible outcomes that can be shared widely with the teaching and learning community.  In her work, Sally will provide strategies for faculty to introduce all students to ways of considering their discipline of study through a global lens, regardless of whether students study abroad or participate in other types of intercultural interactions during their time on campus.  

Internationalizing the Curriculum

Potential Fellow projects may include:

  • Developing innovative instructional and pedagogical strategies that promote internationalization of the curriculum;
  • Aiding departments and faculty in developing new internationally oriented courses or developing an international component of existing courses;
  • Helping faculty prepare students for competence in an increasingly interconnected world;
  • Providing strategies for infusing courses with global knowledge, awareness, and skills in ways that support standard course objectives, as well as encourage faculty to view course content from varied historic, cultural, and geopolitical perspectives
  • Providing guidance on how to select materials, learning activities, and assessment strategies that promote critical thinking and student-centered learning, as well as identify resources for internationalizing their courses, including the diverse experiences and perspectives of students;
  • Increasing the prominence of area studies programs in the curriculum, including new cultural/regional immersion courses.

Curricular Resources

Global Issues in Context from Gale/Cengage furnishes a wide variety of international viewpoints on many global issues and events. You can focus on a particular country or category (environment; health; politics; economy), and (if you create an account) you can choose up to six RSS feeds from many global newspapers. Subjects areas can be approached through multi-level gateways (for example: Environmental & Climate Change, then Sea Level Rise) that co-locate summary viewpoints, videos, images podcasts, primary sources, statistics, and academic or organizational journals, some peer-reviewed. GiC can be an attractive and accessible way to introduce students to current information sources about a very wide variety of topics and differing international viewpoints. The Educator Resources tab has useful information about search tips, research guides and tools, and even lesson or session plans.

Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)

Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) is a relative newcomer to the field of international education.  COIL is not a technology platform or set of virtual tools, rather it is an educational methodology that combines technology and classroom learning across geographic boundaries.  Where it benefits international educators and those interested in internationalizing the curriculum is in its design.  A COIL course is a lesson in both the academic content and intercultural communication/collaboration. What is a COIL course? There are many ways to conduct a COIL course.  In general, it involves connecting two or more classes of similar content offered at two universities in two different countries.  The instructors design one or more course modules in a way that connects the two different student populations.  Often, the two groups of students have to work together to discuss course materials, solve a problem of practice, or produce another type of grade-able product.  Collaboration may occur synchronously (in real time) or asynchronous (not in real time) and students may connect via email, voice, video, or  in some combination. Why is COIL important to International Educators?

Try as we might, a study abroad experience is not always a reality for every single one of our students due to cost, academic inflexibility, or other barriers.  Perhaps the greatest affordance of a virtual classroom is the ability to transcend geographic boundaries in an efficient, cost-effective way.  A COIL course allows students to collaborate beyond the constraints of time and space, as well as interact with individuals from other cultures while still on campus.  Course discussion can be enriched by the diversity in opinions, experiences, and cultures of the individuals, which brings deeper insight and awareness to intercultural issues.  COIL classes are one of the many ways universities can internationalize curricula.

Not only is COIL a valuable instructional design methodology, it is a valuable tool for our daily practice.  Consider the ways in which you could harness COIL for student orientations, language learning, and faculty development.

Why isn't there much information available when I Google COIL? It's because COIL isn't always called COIL. In fact, COIL has its roots in several fields beyond international education.  Try searching some of the following terms and keywords:

  • Globally Networked Learning (GNL)

  • Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL)

  • Collaborative Online Learning

  • Asynchronous Learning Networks

  • Virtual Student Mobility

  • Virtual Learning Communities

Interested in learning more? The SUNY Center for Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) is one of the leading international organizations focused on the emerging field of Globally Networked Learning.  Its website provides a rich set of resources for educators interested in creating COIL opportunities for students.  The SUNY COIL center also hosts an annual conference.


Borderless via technology. West, C. (2010). International Educator, 19(2), 24-33.

New windows on the world. Connell, C. (2014). International Educator, 23(3), 26-38.

Teaching With Tech Across Borders. Redden, E. (2014). Inside Higher Ed


The following is a short list of COIL- specific and related research.  It is by no means a comprehensive list.

Bell, F., Keegan, H. & Zaitseva, E. (2008). Designing virtual student mobility. In E. O’Doherty (Ed.), The fourth education in a changing environment conference book 2007 (99-115). Santa Rosa, CA: Informing Science Press.

Bosch, T. E. (2009). Using online social networking for teaching and learning: Facebook use at the University of Cape Town. Communicatio: South African Journal for Communication Theory and Research, 35(2), 185-200.

de Villiers, M. R. (2010). Academic use of a group on Facebook: Initial findings and perceptions. Proceedings from Informing Science & IT Education Conference (InSITE) 2010.

Hmelo-Silver, C. E. Chernobilsky, E., & Anandi, N. (2008).  Two sides of the coin: Multiple perspectives on collaborative problem solving in online problem-based learning. In Kumpulainem, K., Hmelo-Silver, C. E., & Cesar, M. (Eds.), Investigating classroom interaction: Methodologies in action (73-98). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.

Hmelo-Silver, C. E., Nagarajan, A., & Derry, S. (2006). From face-to-face to online participation: Tensions in facilitating problem-based learning. In M. Savin-Baden & K. Wilkie (Eds.), Problem-based learning (61-78). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Hmelo, C. E., Guzdial, M., & Turns, J. (1998). Computer-support for collaborative learning: Learning to support student engagement. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 9(2), 107-129.

Kirschner, P., Strijbos, J., Kreijns, K., & Beers P. J. (2004). Designing electronic collaborative learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 52(3). 47-66.

Lajoie, S. P., Garcia, B., Berdugo, G., Márquez, L., Espíndola, S., & Nakamura, C. (2006). The creation of virtual and face-to-face learning communities: An international collaboration experience. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 35(2), 163-180.

Laurillard, D. (2009). The pedagogical challenges to collaborative technologies. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 4(1), 5-20.

Lou, K. & Bosley, G. (2008). Dynamics of cultural contexts: Meta-level intervention in the study abroad experience. In V. Savicki (Ed.), Developing intercultural competence and transformation: Theory, research and application in international education (pp. 276-296). Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Muilenburg, L. Y. & Berge, Z. L. (2005). Student barriers to online learning: A factor analytic study. Distance Education, 26(1), 29-48.

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2001). Lessons from the cyberspace classroom: The realities of online teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Resta, P., & Laferrière, T. (2007). Technology in support of collaborative learning. Educational Psychology Review, 19(1), 65-83.

Rovai, A. P. (2000). Building and sustaining community in asynchronous learning networks, Internet and Higher Education, 3, 285–297.

Ryan, S., & Sharp, J. (2011). Exploring educational and cultural adaptation through social networking sites. Journal of Information Technology Education, 10, 1-16.

Seale, J. K., & Cann, A. J. (2000). Reflection on-line or off-line: The role of learning technologies in encouraging students to reflect. Computers & Education, 34(3), 309-320.

Stahl, G. (2006). Group cognition: Computer support for building collaborative knowledge. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Suthers, D. D. (2006). Technology affordances for intersubjective meaning making: A research agenda for CSCL. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 1(3), 315-337.

Tenenbaum, G., Naidu, S., Jegede, O., & Austin, J. (2001). Constructivist pedagogy in conventional on-campus and distance learning practice: An exploratory investigation. Learning and Instruction, 11(2), 87-111.

Volet, S. & Wosnitza, M. (2004). Social affordances and students’ engagement in cross-national online learning: An exploratory study. Journal of Research in International Education, 3(1), 5-29. doi:http://10.1177/1475240904041460.

Vonderwell, S. (2003). An examination of asynchronous communication experiences and perspectives of students in an online course: A case study. Internet and Higher Education, 6, 77-90. doi:http://10.1016/S1096-7516(02)00164-1.

Wegerif, R., & Mansour, N. (2010). A dialogic approach to technology-enhanced education for the global knowledge society. In M. S. Khine & I. M. Saleh (Eds.), The new science of learning: Cognition, computers, and collaboration in education (325-339). New York: Springer.

COIL section reproduced with permission:
Written by C. Wojenski for