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Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)

COIL Faculty Fellows Program-Africa

Announced: Selected Teams & COIL African Campus Coordinators!
Please visit the COIL Faculty Fellows Webpage for detailed information.

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.

Program Launch: Info Session Webinar

Our Info Session Webinar happened on Friday Sept. 08, 2023 (8-9am Eastern Time) and marked the launch of our fellowship program.

Below you can find a video recording of the event, covering important aspects about COIL, the COIL Faculty Fellows Program-Africa, and our first Call for Fellows (which is currently closed; stay tuned to this webpage for forthcoming information as we plan on opening a second call for fellows in the near future).

Under the video, you can find two Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), reflecting questions received during the Info Session Webinar.

FAQ - Faculty Perspectives on COIL

- Was the COIL a separate short term credit-earning experience, or an activity in a semester long course?

Dr. Tessmer: It was an activity in a semester-long course, and was introduced as a module fit into the semester. However, it ran in parallel with class meetings as most of the COIL activities were asynchronous, and needed to be set up outside of classroom time.

- How are students selected to participate in COIL?

Dr. Tessmer: It can be required for the whole class roster (if feasible) or could be formed of volunteers.

- About how many students were involved? Did you experience any drop-outs?

Dr. Tessmer: We had 7 teams of 4 students (2 from MSU and 2 from UL). As the activity took part half-way through the semester, students did not have the option to drop-out anymore.

- What happens if the students were unable to finish the task at the expected time?

Dr. Tessmer: This did not happen in this situation, but I would have handled it as another missed deadline during the course in accordance with the course policies regarding missed deadlines.

Dr. Pang: Uncertainty and adjustments are almost inevitable for COIL. Students will speak different languages, come with different expectations, and not to mention the variation with time zones and technology availability. Instructors need to be flexible and ready to adjust assignments if many students are unable to finish the task(s) at the expected time.

- What feedback did you receive from the students about their experience with the COIL project?

Dr. Tessmer: The interviews and reflections were positive in terms of the human interaction experienced by students. The students were in collaboration with peers across the ocean, and felt they could speak freely with them as peers, rather than speaking with the instructor. It empowered the students to feel they were on an even playing field. The quality of the final written project was superior to all the other assignments turned in over the course of the semester because they knew their assignment would be read by their colleagues, which gave them an extra incentive. Most of the students were seniors and it was their last semester on campus, and they felt sorry that they had to wait so long to participate in a COIL activity. They saw the extra value of learning in an international setting. However, they felt that it was extra challenging due to the time zone difference and cultural differences regarding working over the weekends.

- Could you speak to the kind of topics best to be COILed? For example, consider complex versus simpler ones?

Dr. Tessmer: I have had the opportunity to design three COIL activities in three different courses over the last two years. The more I experience with COIL the more I am convinced that a simpler project is more likely to succeed than a more complicated project. That is mostly due to some additional non-curriculum related challenges that COIL brings: time zone differences, cultural interpretation of what “business hours” are, language issues, technical difficulties,...

Dr. Pang: Courses with a language learning component is a natural fit for COIL. Additionally, courses in the subjects of humanities and social sciences comprise the majority of existing COIL projects that I’ve seen. I have also seen instructors from “hard” science” fields conducting COIL. In my opinion, the best topics of COIL rely on how instructors can explain COIL as a beneficial component to whatever topic his/her/their courses are about. Fundamentally, I think COIL prepares students for intercultural communication, a skill needed for people from all fields in today’s globalized world.

- If the two instructors agreed on the same course with the same contents, what are the shared interests?

Dr. Tessmer: A situation where two instructors agree on the whole course with the same contents would be an ideal environment. The course goals would be shared and COIL could occur at any point in the semester. It is very rare to find an instructor in the US and instructors in AAP affiliated institutions that would teach exactly the same course with the exact same content. Content and learning outcomes that belong just to the COIL activity can be shared, and students can have other learning goals assigned to them outside of the COIL project.

Dr. Pang: Shared interests is a very interesting point in my opinion. No matter what course or content, I’d like to think in terms of long-term personal development for students. What do you hope your students to become or the skills to develop by the end of your class that might serve them for a long term? Is it to help them become more efficient at communicating interculturally, more adept at working collaboratively, or more acceptable and respectful to diversity? What else? Think in big pictures.

FAQ - Fellowship Program & Call for Fellows

Can any individual apply?

Our fellowship program anticipate welcoming a total of twelve fellows, affiliated with institutions 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). Fellows will be faculty or academic staff with teaching appointments from any discipline, and each fellow must already have an existing academic course in mind that they will be teaching between May-Dec/2024 to be “COILed”.

Can any former fellow of the AAP African Futures be part of a team or is that for new fellows?

Previous fellows from the African Futures program are encouraged to apply for this program. That is not a hindrance in any way, shape, or form.

I do not know anyone associated with African AAP-affiliated universities, can I still apply? How can I meet an instructor?

If you don't have a teammate, but you are eligible to apply you can submit the Individual Interest Form by Sept. 30, 2023. 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, to be submitted by Oct. 31, 2023.

If I have found a teammate, whose responsibility it is to submit the application form for the team?

You are free to choose who will submit the team application on behalf of your team. The team application will ask for information regarding each instructor, each course to be COILed, and the team’s initial idea for the COILed project.

Can we apply as a team of more than two instructors? Could an MSU faculty partner with faculty from more than one African AAP-affiliated institution?

We are looking forward to supporting six teams, each with one instructor from MSU and one instructor from one of the African AAP-affiliated universities. However, all applications will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and the selection committee is willing to consider teams of number and type outside of the parameters indicated above. Contact Dr. Cherchiglia (leticia(at) if you have any questions or would like to discuss this further.

About 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

- positioning as global institution through internationalized programs and curricula