Pandemic Paradigm Shift: Growing the International Portal

Let’s think big about the paradigm shift in online learning and what it means for global learning and internationalization. As the world rebuilds around blended workplaces, what new affordances will we educators tap for internationalization? Where does Virtual Exchange and our own CLICK programming fit in the big picture?

Kathy Edersheim and Gretchen Dobson paint a big picture in their recent University World News articles arguing that virtual networks and online teaching provide us with a new paradigm for creating an immersive international educational experience that engages students living in and studying from various locations around the world, “... international education can be more integrated, accessible and meaningful using a virtual curriculum.” We found their systemic view refreshing.

(Edersheim and Dobson 2022)

The authors recommend tapping the systemic power of university networks and online and collaborative course delivery with the Curate-Flip-Facilitate (C-F-F) model which instructional designers often use for individual course development. Edersheim and Dobson describe a system where primary instructors “curate” a series of content and lectures from instructors across the world who are specialists in their fields in combination with lectures and material from the primary instructors themselves. They foreground the usefulness of capstone projects where students from different countries and cultures work as teams. They target active support needed for cross-cultural engagement and learning while noting the challenges of forming bonds among student teams in completely virtual settings. The academic benefits for both students and faculty are manifold. Institutions that invest in developing this robustly internationalized curriculum can create “gold standard” global learning while increasing global enrollments that can help justify investment in the curriculum development. Working with established campus partners and research networks lowers the barriers to adding collaborative curriculum to international partnerships. Systemically for higher education, this model can open opportunities for engaging and addressing the global challenges embedded in the SDGs across the curriculum with C-F-F’s natural fit with problem-based learning.

So where does CLICK virtual exchange fit in this international education paradigm? We share the systemic values - increasing access for in-depth cross-cultural and global learning opportunities through developing collaborative, engaging curriculum. It’s what we set out to do in 2015, long before COVID forced us all into the virtual world. We share the principles and goals of the C-F-F pedagogy with our goals-based design process and problem based learning. We are working increasingly with teachers who incorporate Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their collaboratively taught projects. We plan to grow SDG work with our Global Teach Agriculture Network partners and help quench students’ desires to make a real difference.

Indeed, the systemic paradigm is mirrored at the campus and course level with our Virtual Exchange CLICK system! We connect classrooms across countries. Our turnkey system focuses on helping campuses get started developing the collaborative curriculum and training the teaching partners to bring this immersive international learning experience to students. Collaborating teachers fulfill the paradigm ideals sharing their own expertise to students as well as facilitating learning and discussion of each other’s expertise. Their CLICK projects are inherently international, using team work to inculcate and include cross-cultural competence and 21st century global skills.

Virtual Exchange can be a powerful first step in pursuing this robust systemic paradigm. It is powerful when teachers and students become co-facilitators, creating and engaging in interactive and multi-modal learning spaces, and develop cross-cultural competency through their own international networks. Clearly, we need all modalities to afford more and more students these critical global learning experiences. We know from CLICK all of our tools and approaches are crucial in providing a portal to a world of opportunities.

Grace East, Nancy Ruther


@lingueast @nlr51