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No More "Either-or"

Summer travel. Seeing friends, family. Maybe a conference with colleagues. There’s nothing like being together live, is there? Knowing how precious it is, we look forward to returning to campus, seeing our students and colleagues “live.” Yet we also treasure our hybrid-work flexibility much the way our students value a mix of online-classes and on-ground learning.

So why does “either-or” thinking persist in international education? Both virtual exchange and mobility are real and transform real lives! Three of our CLICK Virtual Exchange teachers are showing us how to bridge the worlds of mobility and virtual modes of learning in real terms.

Let me start toward the end of this CLICK-plus-mobility story. This summer 2023, the three teachers met “live” to plan a summer program in 2024 for 40 students, 20 US and 20 French, focused on

entrepreneurship in the tech sector. The students will work in cross-national teams to ensure continued building of cross-cultural and other 21st c skills. The French colleague who teaches English for Electrical Engineering at IUT de Cachan, U. Paris Saclay hosted the planning meetings with her business-focused teaching colleagues from New England Connecticut’s Housatonic Community College and Massachusetts’ Northern Essex CC.. The three faculty will share the teaching and the French students will act as the local guides for their related cultural visits with their USA counterparts.

In Spring2020, as soon as Covid relented, the IUT Cachan colleagues unfroze their travel plans and the Gazelle team helped them finalize their USA visits with their partner teachers as well as campus leadership. We all shared the goal of CLICK-plus-mobility and this was the opportunity to begin garnering support. The USA in-person visits also solidified the teachers’ relationships that started with their cross-national teaching collaborations in CLICK virtual exchange projects.

The seed was planted in Spring 2019 cohort of CLICK matching-training workshops that Gazelle provided with support and funding from the Connecticut College of Technology. Having been matched in that cohort and then designing their entrepreneurship CLICK project, Mathilde Svab, IUT Cachan, and

Pamela Pirog, Housatonic CC, with two other colleague, ran their first entrepreneurship CLICK project “Yes/Oui! Affaire Conclue/Done Deal!" in Fall 2020. And they have adapted and repeated in Fall 2021 and 2022. In Fall 2023, they will adapt it in preparation for the Summer24 program in France. In the Spring 2022 matching-training CLICK cohort, their Massachusetts colleague, Sheila Muller of Northern Essex CC and her Paris Saclay partner, Samantha Briand, IUT de Sceaux, developed their first CLICK project, “A Mystery of Shopping,” in Spring22. Check out their CLICK project avatar and a blogpost about their cohort's projects. The Northern Essex CC Director of Instructional Technology and Online Learning, Melba Acevedo, also played key instructional and leadership roles.

These CLICK teachers know that international collaboration is energizing for themselves and for their students. Whatever mode we use, let’s follow their lead in creating more great international learning opportunities in our hybrid world. No more “either-or” but “both-and-more” for preparing our globally ready graduates.

Nancy Ruther

August 13, 2023


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