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Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)

Pioneered by the SUNY COIL Center, Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) is an educational methodology focused on fostering online intercultural learning experiences within universities in different countries. To learn more about COIL at MSU, please visit the Office for Education Abroad COIL webpage. There are several benefits of COIL for students, instructors, and institutions, including:


- international experience: cultural exchange, new perspective-taking, global citizenship

- skills development focused on geographically dispersed teamwork: multicultural communication, remote collaboration, project-based approach, digital literacy

- access to global learning for those unable to travel abroad 


- worldwide networking and collaboration with like-minded peers 

- professional development: multicultural teaching skills, global mindset

- curriculum internationalization: global and intercultural dimensions

- content for research, academic publications, and conference presentations 


- support to broader internationalization plan: partnerships with international institutions, complement to other abroad experiences, sustainable practice with inclusion of trained staff/campus coordinators

- opportunity to develop “globally engaged citizen leaders” which in turn can help achieve higher institutional student success’ metrics

- positioning as global institution through internationalized programs and curricula 

COIL Faculty Fellows Program-Africa

MSU’s Global Youth Advancement Network, Alliance for African Partnership (AAP), and Office for Education Abroad are pleased to announce the launch of the COIL Faculty Fellows Program-Africa, an AAP-sponsored initiative focused on exploring the theory and practice of COIL through:

  • Making global learning accessible to MSU students and students from African AAP-affiliated universities through COILed projects;
  • Strengthening the ties between faculty/academic staff from MSU and African AAP-affiliated universities through the development and delivery of COILed projects;
  • Supporting and helping advance the internationalization plan of MSU and African AAP-affiliated universities as the beginning of a broader COIL initiative.

This online fellowship program has the primary goal of assisting faculty or academic staff with teaching appointments from any discipline to design and implement COILed projects together. Stipends will be given to fellows to support professional and project development, and the program will also provide a blend of training workshops, presentations, and a fellows community of practice. Additionally, to further support fellows' learning and promote sustainable institutional internationalization efforts, fellows will be in close contact with MSU's COIL Faculty Learning Community and with appointed COIL African Campus Coordinators. After the COILed projects are implemented, the program will offer a culminating symposium/academic conference, which will be an opportunity for fellows to share insights and showcase their work.

Cohort 2 Launch: Info Session Webinar

We kicked-off the second cohort of our fellowship program with an Info Session Webinar on Wednesday May 01 (9-10am Eastern Time); below you can find a video recording of the event in addition to other important information about our Open Call for Fellows and ongoing COIL projects.

FAQ - Faculty Perspectives on COIL

- What were the class sizes?

Dr. Tessmer: We started with 7 groups of 4-5 collaborators (if you are new to COIL, we recommend starting with a smaller number of groups). If there is an inequity in terms of enrollment in the courses, you may consider offering the COIL experience as an "Honors" project. Interested students submit an application package (including an interview?) that will determine their selection. Such a selection process will likely enhance engagement and success!

- How did you reconcile the assessment requirements of the different institutions? Were the students assessed using the same exercises, tests and examinations?

Dr. Tessmer: We did not attempt to reconcile assessments nor coordinate this process. Each instructor used their own assessment rubrics and methods, that is, assessment rubrics were left to each instructor to decide.

- Was there an in built automatic interpretation?

Dr. Tessmer: For a different COIL activity, we found that language challenges can be alleviated by promoting asynchronous exchanges. By doing so, participants have time to translate posts and/or use automatic translation tools to write their replies before posting.

- How did you have your course to be approved by MSU/your department to be part of COIL? How can students outside of MSU enroll in an MSU course?

Dr. Tessmer: Comparing COIL to a group project, MSU does not require an official approval to run such an activity as part of a course requirement. COIL is similar in the sense that it runs like a group project which happens to also involve students from another institution. Participants are not required to enroll in each other's courses. Course enrollment and credits/grades earned remain within each institution. Think of COIL as the result of an informal agreement between 2-3 HE instructors that are located far apart.

- Is the collaboration done on the COIL platform (not MSU D2L)?

Dr. Tessmer: There is a "COIL platform" managed by SUNY (pioneer institution in COIL initiatives) but it is not used as a course management system. It is more a platform to access COIL resources and network with COIL partners. Instructors who collaborate on a COIL activity can choose the digital platform they deem appropriate for all participants. It is often the case that home platforms (such as D2L at MSU) are not used for the COIL activity because it may required to much training for the remote students to get used to. Often, platforms that have a lower learning curve are preferred such as Padlet or Flip.

- How does one get involved in COIL?

Dr. Tessmer: Once you "click" with a (far apart) colleague who shares learning interests, you are on your way!

- Can COIL be used for both, undergraduate and graduate students/courses?

Dr. Tessmer: Yes, both undergraduate or graduate courses can be adapted to offer a COIL project.

- In the event that your COIL project culminates into a publishable manuscript, what guarantee would be there that the team will co-author the journal article without one "dumping" the other?

Dr. Tessmer: No guarantee that such an unfortunate event would take place... The partners should build a trustful relationship before embarking on a shared publication.

FAQ - Fellowship Program & 2nd Call for Fellows

- Do the instructors need to find each other prior to applying as a team? What if they are already team mates?

If you already have a teammate in mind, you are free to apply as a team (using the Team Application form). If you don't have a teammate, you can submit the Individual Interest Form; after the deadline has passed, all individuals who have submitted their interest form will be notified about other individuals who are also looking for teammates. After you've found a teammate, you can work with them to put together a Team Application. Please visit the Open 2nd Call for Fellows webpage for more information, including deadlines.

- Is there any age limit to the fellowship?

There’s no age limit; our fellows will be teaching faculty working at one of the higher-Education institutions that are part of the AAP consortium: Michigan State University (USA), Egerton University (Kenya), Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Malawi), Makerere University (Uganda), United States International University-Africa (Kenya), Université Cheikh Anta Diop (Senegal), Université des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines de Bamako (Mali), University of Botswana (Botswana), University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), University of Nigeria, Nsukka (Nigeria), and University of Pretoria (South Africa).

- Is this fellowship opportunity for students or teachers?

The COIL fellowship is for higher-education instructors only; these instructors must be teaching at MSU or one of the African universities affiliated to the AAP Consortium.

- Can someone from Nepal collaborate with MSU for COIL projects?

For the purpose of this fellowship program, only instructors from African institutions affiliated with AAP are eligible. However, as COIL becomes more known and used at MSU, it is very likely that COIL activities will expand to all parts of the world. Additionally, if there is an existing (research) collaboration with a Nepalese institution, COIL can be considered as an additional "in the classroom" opportunity at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Open Call for Fellows

The 2024 Call for Fellows announcement can be accessed through this webapge.

Closed Call for Fellows (Ongoing Projects)

2023-2025: COIL Faculty Fellows Program-Africa (Cohort 1)

Through COILed projects scheduled to run in 2024, Michigan State University fellows representing the Broad College of Business, College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, College of Arts & Letters, College of Natural Science, College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Lyman Briggs College are currently collaborating with African fellows from Egerton University (Kenya), Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Malawi), Makerere University (Uganda), and University of Nigeria Nsukka (Nigeria).