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Why we kept CLICKing through COVID - Spring 2020

The spring 2020 semester brought a wave - or perhaps tsunami is a more apt comparison - of changes to teaching and learning. By the end of March, most campuses shifted completely to remote and online learning, leaving teachers and students to reinvent their classes and their lives in real time. We had five virtual exchange/CLICK projects starting. We deeply respect the two that had to stop to support their colleagues and students through these unprecedented challenges. Three continued and their story reveals the power at the heart of CLICK collaborations. Those that continued adapted their materials by shortening the time span and removing smaller steps in the student learning activities.

As our team reached out to CLICK teachers in March, seven teachers in three CLICK projects responded that they wanted to continue with their virtual exchange projects despite their overwhelming “to do” lists. In fact, the co-teaching element of CLICK helped them feel more prepared to juggle the demands of virtual teaching. They had already received training from our workshops on co-teaching and on using online tools for teaching. On top of that, CLICK provided a social outlet for both teachers and students. Teachers reported that students were eager to continue with the project.

In times of physical distancing, the virtual exchange projects enabled teachers and students to connect both socially and professionally with peers around the world.

It was truly impressive to see the dedication and determination of these students in completing the final project in each of three COVID-Spring CLICK projects. They were able to accomplish a bi-national team project even with limited resources and time. See this post for full details on each. International student teams made up of community college and IUT students from Connecticut, USA and France…

  • Wrote, edited, filmed and produced a short film on a typical day during the global pandemic (CLICK Project: “The French-American Film Connection”)

  • Analyzed and presented on the cultural elements and marketing differences in website design for three major companies in France and the US: Starbucks, Disney, McDonald’s (CLICK Project: “The Impact of National Cultures in Web Design”)

  • Performed a SWOT analysis to analyze an international bank, made recommendations for improvements, and presented their findings to the class (CLICK Project: “International Bank Marketing”)

“Listen” to some student voices as they reported back on their experience through our post-CLICK student surveys in spring 2020. When asked “What was the greatest reward from participating in this CLICK learning module?, students answered:

And for a ranked order summary of these qualitative results, see the table below:

Students also answered the question: “What was the biggest challenge with the CLICK learning module?” The types of student responses are categorized below, and we immediately notice that only 2 students (out of 38) mentioned the COVID-19 pandemic as a significant challenge.

So what does this mean for virtual exchange/CLICK? Our results show that students greatly enjoyed meeting new friends and collaborating on a project with peers from another country. A recent webinar by EVOLVE showed similar findings - students did not feel as lonely during the early COVID-19 physical isolation because they were connecting with international peers. These enthusiastic student responses were a huge motivator for teachers!

Even if a full virtual exchange project isn’t possible, teachers can create smaller, simpler modules during these difficult times of remote learning and days spent on Zoom. With COVID19 still forcing us to stay off campus in Fall2020, some of our teachers have opted for a “lighter” VE project, more simply connecting students through conversation. While we typically promote a full project-based experience for students - with an introductory task, intermediate activity and capstone/final project - these shorter and more informal conversations between international peers is an excellent way to keep the momentum going and maintain contact with a teaching partner when a full project simply isn’t possible for some teachers.

We are happy to report that we have two full CLICK projects running this semester, and they launched on September 28! Check back for updates on those CLICK projects.

5 October 2020

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