COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning)

COIL courses bring together two or more courses from different countries through asynchronous, project-based modules.

Imagine a course that breaks through the physical, technological, and social boundaries to bring you a learning experience like never before. In COIL courses, you will have an opportunity to work with peers who live and study in another country, who may be at a different stage of their education, and who may not speak fluent English. The COIL approach allows your ideas and your voice to intermingle with the conversations happening in classrooms and research institutes all over the world! You and your global peers will work together to create a project that will be rich in perspectives. 

Teaching COIL

COIL modules are an exciting and useful way to invigorate any class. By moving teaching and learning into an international context, instructors and students can see how their ideas and practices impact people from other countries and cultures. COIL courses encourage creativity, dialogue, and collaboration. In fact, it is the collaboration that is the most valuable part of the COIL approach. In addition, COIL is a flexible methodology that is based on the needs and realities of the global context. COIL course can:

  • Bring courses from various disciplines together 
  • Help student become active learners 
  • Encourage teamwork, cooperation, and collaboration
  • Emphasize cross-cultural interactions and understanding
  • Be flexible in terms of timing and length
  • Are a graded activity in each participating class
  • Can use any technology tools that serves the learning goals

Visually, COIL can be represented as:

FDU’s COIL approach currently partners with institutions or courses that are taught in English.


Effective COIL collaborations follow a recognized progression through specific phases.  

  1. The team building phase includes introductions and icebreakers, along with discussions and activities designed to help students get to know and feel comfortable working with one another online and across cultures. 
  2. The next phase includes comparative discussions and organizing the project that teams of students will be working on. This phase prepares students for effective collaborative project work.  
  3. The project phase is focused on the main activity for the collaboration. This is the time that students apply their knowledge, create something together or have substantive discussions around the topic of the collaboration. 
  4. The final phase involves the presentation of work completed (in any format agreed upon by the collaborating professors), reflection on both the content of the module and the intercultural aspects of the collaboration, and concluding.


COIL planning begins with collaboration between professors from different institutions who want to bring intercultural and global learning into their classes.

Professors work together to:

  • Define student learning goals
  • Determine the length of the interaction
  • Design comparative and collaborative activities
  • Select methodology and technology tools for collaboration
  • Monitor student work and learning

Students work together to:

  • Develop effective international/intercultural teams
  • Discuss course assignments and content
  • Complete a project-based activity as part of their coursework
  • Reflect on both the academic content of the course and the intercultural exchange that takes place

Adapted from: