VE Technology

Technological Solutions for Virtual Exchange/COIL

Some major considerations when selecting the format and technology platforms for VE/COIL programs are time differences and the technological capabilities in your partner location, including internet access, bandwidth, and firewalls. Below are links to the useful information on how to host a synchronous interaction, pre-record content, or host a discussion board from the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Support's website:

Create a Discussion Forum to Enhance Interaction

One way to spark interaction with and among your students on course-related content is to craft an engaging discussion forum. Begin the forum by informing students what course content the forum covers and then author questions relating to that content for the students to answer. Finally, provide students with response requirements (e.g., the deadline for participation) and guidelines (e.g., how many responses, how long, and depth of participation). Check in on the forum regularly, acknowledge and comment on contributors, and help facilitate the conversation moving.

Once you have developed the prompt, create the discussion in Blackboard to include an appropriately descriptive title and select the option, in the forum settings section, to indicate, "Participants must create a thread in order to view other threads in this forum." Notify the students the Forum is available. 

An alternate variation of a Discussion Forum over course content is through the use of video. For example:
  • Locate an appropriate video (e.g., from CMU Libraries Kanopy Database, TED Talks, or YouTube).
  • Generate questions relating the reading/video content to course content.
  • Clarify student response requirements.
  • Create a discussion forum with an appropriately descriptive title.
  • Communicate to students.
Technology should not determine the type of virtual exchange; rather, the type of virtual exchange should determine the technology. Virtual exchanges come in many shapes and sizes depending on your goals, audience, technical capacity, and subject matter. The program formats and technology platforms can range from informal discussions via Google Hangout, to more complex and formal online presentations and Q&A sessions between a virtual speaker and a large audience and breakout rooms via, for example, Zoom. Other live real-time platforms include Adobe Connect, YouTube, Facebook Live, Skype, Google Hangouts, and UberConference.

Virtual exchange activities do not have to be live-streamed. Many teachers use email, text chats on social media, and even phone calls to supplement live streaming, or to bridge large differences in time zones. There are a variety of time-delayed platforms available for use on virtual exchange programs, including SnapChat, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc. You do not have to have high internet bandwidth to build a virtual exchange. The important thing is to tailor the exchange to the participants, rather than attempting to tailor the participants to the technology. (Cited from the Department of State's Virtual Exchange Toolkit)

To read about how a professor from Tec De Monterrey used technology for his virtual exchange, click here

Digital/Distance Learning Resources and Tools

As faculty consider which platform(s) to use, it is important to verify which platforms CMU's OIT supports. It is best practice to utilize platforms for which OIT provides tech support while balancing the needs of the overseas partner. Note that these platforms have not necessarily been vetted by OIT but are suggested as examples to explore.