Without Crossing a Border: Exploring the Impact of Shifting Study Abroad Online on Students’ Learning and Intercultural Competence Development during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Yingjie Liu, Thomas Shirley


While all higher education was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, study abroad programs were uniquely challenged by the associated restrictions and limitations. This case study integrates a Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) pedagogy approach and virtual reality (VR) technologies into the curriculum redesign process to transform a business study abroad course into an online format. Using VR technology, U.S. students and their international partners in Germany, Brazil, and India created and shared cultural exchange virtual tours. The redesigned online study abroad course engaged students in active learning activities and cultivated students’ intercultural competence development.


Study abroad, COIL, Virtual reality, higher education, online collaborative learning, online readiness, motivation

Full Text:



Adnan, M., & Anwar, K. (2020). Online learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic: Students' perspectives. Journal of Pedagogical Sociology and Psychology, 2(1), 45-51.

Appiah-Kubi, P. & Annan, E. (2020). A Review of a Collaborative Online International Learning. International Journal of Engineering Pedagogy, 10(1), 109-124.

Asojo, A., Kartoshkina, Y., Jaiyeoba, B., & Amole, D. (2019). Multicultural Learning and Experiences in Design through Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Framework. Journal of Teaching and Learning with Technology, 8(1), 5-16. https://doi.org/10.14434/jotlt.v8i1.26748

Chiao, H. M., Chen, Y. L., & Huang, W. H. (2018). Examining the usability of an online virtual tour-guiding platform for cultural tourism education. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education, 23, 29-38.

Clarke, V., & Braun, V. (2014). Thematic analysis. In A. C. Michalos (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of quality of life and well-being research (pp. 6626–6628). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

De Castro, A.B, Dyba, Natalia, Cortez, Elizabeth D, & Pe Benito, Genecar G. (2019). Collaborative Online International Learning to Prepare Students for Multicultural Work Environments. Nurse Educator, 44(4), E1-E5.

Guth, S. & Rubin, J. (2015). Collaborative online international learning: An emerging format for internationalizing curricula. In Schultheis Moore, A. & Simon, S. Globally Networked Teaching in the Humanities (pp. 83–99). New York: Routledge.

Hauze, S., Hoyt, H., Marshall, J., Frazee, J., & Greiner, P. (2018, December). An Evaluation of Nursing Student Motivation to Learn Through Holographic Mixed Reality Simulation. In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Teaching, Assessment, and Learning for Engineering (TALE) (pp. 1058-1063). IEEE.

Jie, Z., & Pearlman, A. M. G. (2018). Expanding Access to International Education through Technology Enhanced Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Courses. International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, 14(1), 1-11.

Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

Li, C., Ip, H. H., Wong, Y. M., & Lam, W. S. (2020). An empirical study on using virtual reality for enhancing the youth's intercultural sensitivity in Hong Kong. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 36, 625– 635.

Lomicka, L., & Ducate, L. (2019). Using technology, reflection, and noticing to promote intercultural learning during short-term study abroad. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 1-31.

Mendenhall, M., Stevens, M. J., Bird, A., Oddou, G. R., & Osland, J. (2008). Specification of the content domain of the Intercultural Effectiveness Scale. The Kozai monograph series, 1(2), 1-22.

Nava-Aguirre, K. M., Garcia-Portillo, B. I., & Lopez-Morales, J. S. (2019). Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL): An Innovative Strategy for Experiential Learning and Internationalization at Home. In the Palgrave Handbook of Learning and Teaching International Business and Management (pp. 721-746). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Schott, C. (2017). Virtual fieldtrips and climate change education for tourism students. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education, 21, 13-22.

Svanholm, A.G. (2020). The Impact of COVID-19 on Study Abroad: Latest Survey Results. education.com. https://institutions.educations.com/insights/student-survey-covid-19-and-study-abroad

The SUNY Center for Collaborative Online International Learning. (2019). Guide for collaborative online international learning course development. http://www.ufic.ufl.edu/UAP/Forms/COIL_guide.pdf

The SUNY Center for Collaborative Online International Learning. (2013). The COIL Institute for Globally Networked Learning in the Humanities final report. http://coil.suny.edu/sites/default/files/case_study_report.pdf

Vahed, A., & Rodriguez, K. (2020). Enriching students’ engaged learning experiences through the collaborative online international learning project. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 1-10.

Watermeyer, R., Crick, T., Knight, C., & Goodall, J. (2020). COVID-19 and digital disruption in UK universities: afflictions and affordances of emergency online migration. Higher Education, 1-19.

Xie, Y., Ryder, L., & Chen, Y. (2019). Using interactive virtual reality tools in an advanced Chinese language class: A case study. TechTrends, 63(3), 251-259.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v25i1.2471

Copyright (c) 2021 Yingjie Liu, Thomas Shirley

License URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/