Since 2013, the Learn Chile consortium of 24 higher education institutions has worked to promote the nation’s internationalization, primarily through mobility programming. When the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily put the brakes on those activities, Learn Chile’s leaders seized the opportunity to initiate a new era in the network’s efforts to make international education more accessible through its groundbreaking nation- and region-wide COIL Capacity Building Project.
Learn Chile partnered with FIU COIL to deliver a COIL professional development program in Spanish to its 24 member institutions and their partners throughout Latin America. Between September 2020 and April 2021, FIU COIL Director Stephanie Doscher and affiliated trainer Eva Haug, Educational Advisor for Internationalisation of the Curriculum and COIL in the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, facilitated workshops for 120 senior administrators, 96 faculty, and 48 COIL Coordination staff, producing 48 COIL plans for successful launch throughout the 2021 academic year.
Learn Chile’s rapid response project was accessible to a broad spectrum of faculty through its focus on Spanish-language COILs and the region’s rich scholarly and cultural diversity. Faculty in disciplines ranging from architecture and agronomy to computing, kinesiology, and winemaking developed hands-on projects that engaged more than 2800 undergraduate and graduate students during the COILs' first implementation alone.
Creative Internationalization through COIL
Marcos Avilez, Director of Learn Chile and Director of International Relations at Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso (PUCV), doesn’t see COIL slowing down after the pandemic. His vision is to combine COIL with in-person study abroad programs to create more accessible and meaningful hybrid international learning experiences for students and faculty alike.
“Internationalization is an ongoing creative process,” Avilez says. “COIL’s unique methodology affords passionate professors a platform to develop innovative courses with other like-minded academics. Indeed, COIL’s potential is as limitless as the creativity of the professors behind it.”
- Language: Students and faculty who don’t speak English are often cut off from international travel, study, research, professional development, and collaboration opportunities.
- Diversity: Latin America’s cultural, linguistic, and scholarly diversity is often overlooked or misunderstood within and outside the region.
- Technology: Concerns that faculty and students might not have technical resources such as stable WiFi often prevent people from even considering COIL as a viable option.
- Support staff: COIL is a relatively new methodology; lack of professional know-how prevents institutions from leading and expanding COIL as an internationalization strategy.
- Bilingual: English and Spanish content and instruction made COIL training accessible and modeled bilingual modes of instruction and student collaboration.
- Cultural ties: FIU COIL’s location in Miami, often described as the Gateway to the Americas, made it a natural training partner due to the university's deep and diverse cultural, political, and economic ties to the region.
- Technology serves the task: FIU’s COIL Design Workshops engage faculty in the same tools and strategies they can employ with students, including asynchronous work designs and mobile phone-accessible applications.
- Train-the-trainer: Each faculty partnership was accompanied by a COIL Coordinator who received training and supported participants’ ongoing success.
- Spanish-language educational research: Multiple faculty partners collected data from the COILs that will be disseminated through Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL).
- Networking: The Learn Chile project strengthened institutional relationships within the consortium and the region and among the six consortia that form Latin American Initiative for the Internationalization of Higher Education (INILAT) .
- Research funding: PUCV was awarded a grant to conduct technological innovation research with three other institutions around the world through COIL.
- Latin American leadership: Twenty-six percent of institutions registered on https://coilconnect.org are located in Latin America.