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  • Nancy Ruther, EdD

Intentionally International: Community Colleges Go Global!

In a few weeks, the Gazelle International team will attend the 45th annual conference of the Community Colleges for International Development (CCID). This year’s theme is “Reopen and Redesign with Purpose: International Education Through a Social Justice Lens.” How can international studies educators and administrators engage with issues of economic and racial inequalities ingrained in the field? How can we contribute to more just and equitable practices for our students and the world?

Gazelle Intl’s work with community colleges and their “cousins” in France aligns well with these topics, and we look forward to hearing how other institutions have handled the move online due to COVID-19 and the inequities the pandemic has brought to light. Even before the pandemic, Gazelle Intl has worked to aid in the design of classroom-to-classroom online exchanges as well as to incorporate virtual exchange (VE) and internationalization programs at the institutional level. We were especially well-equipped to guide our new and existing partners through the switch from an emphasis on study abroad to VE as well as to show them how VE can benefit their students, faculty, and institution in the long-run. To share our experience with the CCID community, the team will host a workshop titled, “Workforce Readiness: Harnessing CLICK- Virtual Exchange” and a presentation titled, “CLICK Virtual Exchange in COVID-19 and Before: Data on Student Perspectives.”

Check out this quote by the executive director of CCID, Dr. Stephanie Kelly, who encourages higher education institutions to jump into VE if they haven’t yet:

"If we can use this time to really focus on internationalizing courses and curricula, then I think we’ll do ourselves a great service. Once things get back to . . . [normal], we’ll have this extra capacity. And we know that that really impacts way more students than study abroad. I love study abroad, and there’s no doubt that it is one of the most impactful things students can do at colleges, but we also know that the majority of students will not be able to take advantage of those programs because of cost, etc. So really, it’s faculty who are going to give them their international experience."

It’s faculty who are going to give [students] their international experience.

Gazelle Intl strongly subscribes to this belief--that faculty are the key to what we do. Students do so well and accomplish so much in classroom-to-classroom VE experiences, but it can only happen with the teachers’ magic. Gazelle Intl guides teachers through the connected classroom design process and introduces high-impact pedagogy practices so teachers may be intentional about their learning goals and craft activities where students truly develop the intended cross-cultural skills. With the support of Gazelle Intl, teachers can innovate and create while avoiding rookie mistakes, foreseeing challenges, and constructing a seamless third learning space for students to achieve VE learning outcomes.

In an October episode of the podcast “Growing International,” hosted by Jody Littleton at Parkland College, Littleton interviewed Dr. Kelly. In this episode, they discuss what CCID is and the benefits it provides for members. Kelly explains that the philosophy of CCID is based on the idea that community college students deserve a global education and international experiences. The global consortium is made up of community, technical, and vocational institutions dedicated to creating globally-engaged learning environments for their students by aiding member institutions in:

  • expanding capacity for study abroad programs

  • welcoming and supporting international students on their campus

  • designing comprehensive internationalization of their curriculum.

Through these efforts, CCID and participating institutions hope to cultivate in students the skills necessary to navigate the world and their jobs with success.

Members can attend free webinars and workshops sponsored by CCID throughout the year--including several by Gazelle International--and can utilize the organization to make connections and find support in a professional community. Dr. Kelly remarks in the podcast on the resiliency of this community and how members have come together to discuss how to innovate and adapt in the face of the changing and uncertain circumstances of the last year.

Be sure to register for CCID’s annual conference, held virtually on February 17-19, 2021, sign up for our pre-conference workshop, and watch our presentation! See the descriptions below:

Workforce Readiness: Harnessing CLICK- Virtual Exchange

with Dr. Nancy Ruther, Principal and Founder, Gazelle International, Inc. and Alexa Jeffress, CLICK Teaching and Learning Coordinator

In this interactive workshop, we will examine the workforce benefits and preparedness that students receive through participation in a virtual exchange (VE) program. Using sample syllabi from previous CLICK virtual exchange projects - Gazelle International’s program for VE -, we will consider how same-discipline and interdisciplinary projects can achieve similar outcomes for 21st-century skill development. In an interactive component of the session, we will brainstorm ways to increase faculty buy-in and engagement with VE programs, particularly in the applied sciences fields. We will consider how to add the international component to project-based learning in a way that also increases employability for students post-graduation. This workshop is suitable for both teachers and administrators.

CLICK Virtual Exchange in COVID-19 and Before: Data on Student Perspectives

with Dr. Nancy Ruther, Principal and Founder, Gazelle International, Inc., Alexa Jeffress, CLICK Teaching and Learning Coordinator, and Sarah Rabke, Virtual Learning Liaison

In this session, participants will: 1) Discover the ways in which the COVID-19 global pandemic has altered student perspectives on virtual exchange. 2) Explore quantitative self-reported student responses from pre- and post- surveys and compare the data from three years of data with results from the spring 2020 and fall 2020 semesters affected by COVID-19. 3) Hear student responses to what has been most challenging and most rewarding about participating in virtual exchange in spring 2020 and fall 2020. 4) Consider what this data means for the future of virtual exchange.

January 19, 2021


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