Telecollaboration in International (Moodle) courses: Pitfalls and Success

I’m attending the 10th Anniversary COIL Conference.and doing some almost-live blogging. Here are my notes from another session.

Presenters: Miriam Russell, SUNY Empire State College (United States)
Lorette Calix, SUNY Empire State College (United States) See her work: The Value of a Virtual Term Abroad
Richard Bonnabeau, SUNY Empire State College (United States)
Francesca Cichello, SUNY Empire State College (United States)

Description: This four-person panel will present an overview of the communicative tools and technology used in SUNY Empire State College international programs. Included will be reflections on experiences using technology with international students, some of whom will join the panel virtually using Zoom. Additionally, specific examples of computer-mediated feedback will illustrate how these tools helped turn telecommunication pitfalls into success for all.


Learn about the Center for International Programs at SUNY Empire State College. Francesca described how they hire local faculty as needed. The instruction is blended – some online and some face to face; and some programs have residency abroad. They do many COIL type activities and very little study abroad.

In this session, they described two collaborations, one that included Anadolu University, Turkey; SUNY Cortland, SUNY Empire State College; and another with UNAPEC, Dominican Republic. A student from Turkey and from the Dominican Republic were on the Skype call, and shared the benefits of their experience succinctly and articulately. For the collaboration with UNAPEC, the classes are delivered online with weekly virtual meetings, and there are residency sessions as well.

Multiple components are needed for success: f2f, videoconferences, blogs, online support – LMS, informal ways to communicate – mixed results with Facebook; most successful was WhatsApp.

One essential piece is a way to communicate other than the platform for the videoconference itself – i.e. WhatsApp. It can be used for resolving technical issues, and for connecting & ccollaborating. It allows students to talk just like they do outside of a f2f class. It provides for social communication. It is critical to use a tool that people can use on their phones.

Students in Turkey & Dominican Republic were discussing the lunar eclipse together and sharing their experiences with it while it happened (shared events).

The faculty member at Empire State College was teaching to Turkey and the Dominican Republic at the the same time.

Another model they shared was an “international field study” where students start with an orientation online, break the ice with each other online, and then 3 weeks later students met f2f in Instanbul.

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