A Formative Case Evaluation for the Design of an Online Delivery Model Providing Access to Study Abroad Activities

Wendy Howard, Gino Perrotte, Minyoung Lee, Jenna Frisone


Despite the pressure from potential employers and higher education administrators to develop students’ global and intercultural competence, traditional study abroad programs simply are not feasible for many postsecondary students (Berdan & Johannes, 2014; Fischer, 2015). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of an online delivery model for study abroad activities. Building upon the findings of an initial exploratory program using Adobe Connect web conferencing tools, this evaluative case study was the second in a series of design based research studies intended to identify effective practices and develop recommendations to further refine the model through an iterative evaluation process. Using the Online Learning Consortium’s Quality Framework, each of the Five Pillars that support successful online learning was evaluated through a combination of anonymous surveys, pre/post assessments, observations, and student & instructor interviews. 

Regarding access, 26 students who were enrolled in an intercultural communication course were able to participate in a study abroad experience in Italy; 10 students participated in the traditional study abroad trip while the other 16 participated virtually. The online students were able to join the live meetings, thus expanding their access to international experiences that normally would be closed to them. In terms of student and faculty satisfaction, both groups of students and the instructor reported specific areas of satisfaction, offered critical feedback, and felt that the concept was a viable one. While the students who traveled to Italy had a far more immersive experience, both groups demonstrated gains in learning. Using Morais and Ogden’s (2010) global citizenship pre/post assessment, both groups showed improvement on the self-awareness and intercultural communication scales, and when comparing the two groups the online students improved more on the social responsibility scale while the students who traveled improved more on the global knowledge scale. Both groups submitted assignments of similar quality, engaged in communications between the abroad and online groups, and interacted with the instructor and experts in the field. In terms of differences in student engagement, students had differing opinions on the interaction with the technology and the online group asked more questions during live meetings. The implications of this pilot study should inform the planning of the next case evaluation and are important for other educators who wish to implement a similar approach to internationalizing the curriculum through online instruction.


Instructional Technology; Internationalization; Distance Education; Web Conferencing; Study Abroad; Online Learning; Instructional Design; Cross-cultural; Global Citizenship

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v21i3.1234