Rethinking Virtual Exchange: Aligning Frameworks with Learning Outcomes

Connie Li, Sam Lau, Tracy Hui, Alvin Tang

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


    Purpose – Virtual exchange (VE) is an innovative educational approach that enables students to engage with peers across different cultures, locales, and time zones to complete coursework, all under the supervision of an educator (Jager et al., 2019; O’Dowd, 2018). Although VE has been a staple in language education for over two decades (Belz, 2003; Warschauer, 1996), there has been a lack of research into its design and the impact it has on the learning experiences of business students. Moreover, while the learning outcomes for language learners have been thoroughly investigated, the diverse nature of VE pedagogies, including the variety of tasks and models, makes it challenging to draw definitive conclusions about student learning (O’Dowd, 2018). This qualitative study is set to explore the influence of different VE models (PRE-COIL versus COIL) on student learning outcomes within business programmes. While Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) typically spans 4-8 weeks and includes ice-breaking activities, collaborative tasks, and reflection sessions, PRE-COIL represents a more informal engagement with foreign partners. During this phase, students convene to brainstorm topic content, aiming to enrich their understanding with diverse cultural perspectives. This research will provide insights to academic community to creatively expand beyond traditional COIL methodologies to potentially include a PRE-COIL framework, contingent on desired learning outcomes.
    Design/methodology/approach – This qualitative study involved conducting focus group interviews with business students in Hong Kong who had previously participated in two distinct virtual exchange frameworks: PRE-COIL and COIL. The first group comprised university students from Hong Kong and the USA. The second group included university students from Hong Kong, the USA and Brazil.
    Findings – The research revealed that PRE-COIL, which provides Hong Kong students with more autonomy in completing tasks, offers several advantages over COIL in terms of boosting confidence in speaking a second language and fostering an appreciation for cross-cultural collaboration that ignites creativity. Although there was no significant difference in content knowledge gained between the two groups, students involved in COIL emphasized that they gained more valuable team collaboration experience with peers from foreign countries.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusAccepted/In press (AAM) - Jul 2024
    Event2024 International Conference on Open and Innovation Education - Hong Kong, Hong Kong
    Duration: 3 Jul 20245 Jul 2024


    Conference2024 International Conference on Open and Innovation Education
    Country/TerritoryHong Kong


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