COIL courses bring world to students, faculty

The growing success of COIL exemplifies how the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs advances Globalize, the seventh initiative in the University’s strategic plan, by bolstering the initiative’s second objective, the Global Guarantee, which promises that a global education is available to all Carolina students. 

A group of students posing on a bridge.
In the “COIL Plus” BUSI 201 course, Carolina students work virtually with Corvinus University of Budapest, and then travel to Hungary over spring break.

Carolina’s Collaborative Online International Learning program began in response to a global pandemic that paused international travel. 

But after more than two years, COIL has grown into something much bigger and more impactful, forging educational partnerships throughout the world and diversifying the way Carolina students and faculty learn and teach. The Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs has continued to expand COIL support for Carolina faculty, and many are now taking their learning and collaboration outside the classroom, sharing their experiences widely. 

The growing success of COIL exemplifies how the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs advances Globalize, the seventh initiative in the University’s strategic plan, by bolstering the initiative’s second objective, the Global Guarantee, which promises that a global education is available to all Carolina students. 

COIL is a flexible pedagogical approach in which faculty members in different countries connect their courses virtually, providing students with cross-cultural learning opportunities like case studies, artistic compositions and group projects. Fifty Carolina faculty have implemented this model since Carolina’s COIL program launched in 2020. A growing number are presenting at national and international conferences and publishing academic articles about their COIL teaching experiences. 

With support from the new COIL Conference Award, Michael Meredith, clinical professor of management and corporate communication in the Kenan-Flagler Business School, will present at theAssociation for Business Communication’s conference in Naples, Italy, in January. Meredith collaborated with Corvinus University of Budapest in Hungary through BUSI 201, Business in Europe.

“The COIL course is a lot of work, but it’s been one of the most rewarding teaching experiences I’ve ever had,” Meredith says.“As a public institution, we need to help students with tools that elicit success on this worldwide stage for issues that can have an enormous magnitude and a tremendous reach. The aim of educating our students and addressing the most pressing challenges of our time — that’s the aim of Globalize.” 

“Promising that a global education is available to all students means that we invest in those delivering the education, our faculty,” said Barbara Stephenson, vice provost for global affairs. “When faculty engage in COIL, they are diversifying and strengthening global learning at Carolina and ultimately infusing our entire campus with a global mindset.” 

Every semester, the vice provost’s office invites faculty to apply for a curriculum development award to implement COIL in an existing course. But Carolina’s COIL program is much more than an award, said Sharmila Udyavar, associate director for global education. 

The office’s global education specialists host information sessions and workshops, curate a repository of COIL teaching resources for interested applicants and even help faculty navigate the approval process for general education credit. Once faculty members receive a curriculum development award, there are built-in structures and additional funds available to foster their professional development and even engage with their international peers in person. 

Lisa Woodley, clinical associate professor at UNC School of Nursing, is one of four COIL Faculty Fellows — Carolina faculty who have taught COIL courses multiple semesters — and is available to consult with faculty on their course development. 

Woodley especially appreciates how inclusive COIL is. “When I looked at the COIL experience, I thought, ‘Wow, this could be a cool experience for my students, and it could involveevery single oneof them,” said Woodley. 

Woodley has “COILed” NURS 483, Family Centered Nursing Care from Birth through Adolescence, three times with partners at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil and reached more than 300 Carolina pediatric nursing students. This course exemplifies one of Woodley’s main objectives: to provide more culturally responsive nursing. 

Once faculty have received a COIL award three times, they are eligible for the COIL Champion Award, which includes up to $1,500 for faculty to visit or host their COIL partners, or to attend conferences related to COIL. 

Woodley presented with Udyavar and her University of Sao Paulo partner at the American Association of Colleges & Universities 2022 Annual Global Learning Conference on the topic of “Transforming Global Learning Practice: Time for Change.” In addition, an article by Woodley and others, Collaborative Online International Learning in Undergraduate Nursing Education: From Inspiration to Impact, is currently in review in the International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship. 

“If you are willing to take some initiative, be creative and think about where you could share your successes with this, there are a lot of doors that potentially can open,” said Woodley. 

The various professional development opportunities and partnerships created by COIL further reinforce the Globalize initiative’s second objective, the Global Guarantee, which strives to “diversify and strengthen global learning across the Carolina curriculum on campus and abroad, including through enhanced support to faculty for developing new, revised, globally partnered and interdisciplinary global resources.” 

Maureen Baker, associate professor at UNC School of Nursing, is currently collaborating with a class from St. Luke’s International University in Tokyo, Japan, led by Erika Ota, professor of globalhealth nursing. It’s a repeat of a COIL course she taught in fall 2021. 

Since becoming part of Carolina’s COIL program, Baker has taken her expertise outside of the classroom. She presented on COIL at the NC State Global Conference, and a manuscript about herCOIL course was accepted for publication in the Journal for Nursing Education. Through the COIL Pub Award, Baker will receive $500 from the vice provost’s office for publishing an article related to her COIL teaching at Carolina. 

Baker admits she was nervous when she received her first COIL Curriculum Development Award. “When I accepted, I said, ‘Oh my God, how am I going to teach a course with students from Japan? I don’t even know what their curriculum is like.’ But it worked out. It has shown me to take a chance. Never say no, check things out, give it your best shot and see if it works. And it worked.” 

In this occasional series about Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good, The Well looks at how staff, faculty and students are turning the words of the strategic plan into reality.

Learn more about COIL course opportunities and how to apply.