Global Collaboration is Focus of New COIL Partnership

An instructor stands at the front of the class and teaches a room of students in person and on Zoom.

By Rebecca Maxon

March 12, 2024 — Fairleigh Dickinson University can now pair its students with students across the globe and across disciplines, all while staying on campus. FDU has joined the State University of New York’s Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) program.

“This exciting project partners FDU students with peers from around the world in project-based learning, so they can enhance the skills they need to collaborate with members of diverse communities and prepare to enter the job market as global professionals,” says Benjamin Rifkin, University provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

FDU uses COIL Connect, a network of participating universities, to reach out to potential global partners. Agie Markiewicz-Hocking, Becton College COIL coordinator, says, “Using COIL Connect, universities around the world can post the types of courses they are seeking partners for.” In turn, other universities can reach out with their ideas on collaboration.

This semester, FDU is running ten COIL courses with partner institutions in North and South America (Canada and Brazil), Europe (France, North Macedonia), Asia (China, Turkey), and Africa (South Africa), and there are more partners in more countries lined up for future semesters.

Paired courses do not have to be in the same subject, making the possibilities endless. For example, Yelena Aronson, professor of computer graphics, teaches Digital Illustration and Design at FDU, which is paired with a class on computing at the Center for Advanced Studies and Systems (CESAR) in Recife, Brazil. Students are working on a data visualization project. They are identifying a data set that will then be translated into a visual artifact.

Other FDU paired courses include Global Issues, Comparative Constitutional Law, Social Deviance, International Communication, Modern African History and Data in Criminology.

"The imagination of faculty shines through these projects, and they are excited on the American side and the partnering side to come up with something that is creative and new."
— Agie Markiewicz-Hocking

Cross-disciplinary pairings teach students to “transfer” skills they develop in working on projects collaboratively with their international partners. “Transfer is a concept in education where skills from one discipline can be applied to another,” says Markiewicz-Hocking. These skills are picked up, or transferred, by students working together. “If I am a history student,” she says, “and I’m working with somebody who’s in engineering or health, my skills will naturally move in that direction.”

Most of the work on the collaborative project is done online and asynchronously, enhancing FDU students’ technology and collaboration skills — skills highly valued in the 21st-century marketplace in which employers need their teams to develop and maintain global networks for highly collaborative work in increasingly diverse cultural contexts. “The most important purpose of COIL is the collaboration,” says Markiewicz-Hocking.

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