Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)

Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) allows a U.S.-based classroom to connect with a class at a college or university abroad, and work together on one or various assignments. Faculty and students will have increased opportunities to enhance their global and cross-cultural knowledge with international peers.

Getting started with COIL

Full-time and adjunct faculty across departments are encouraged to consider using COIL in an existing course. If you are interested in learning more, please fill out this survey. The application to participate in BMCC’s COIL Cohort will be shared at the beginning of the fall semester. Faculty are expected to identify a potential international COIL partner and attend workshops to prepare a COIL project for their selected course. If you are interested in COIL but unable to attend the workshops, please contact Jessica Levin, Experiential Learning and Study Abroad Manager, at

COIL support

Faculty receive support from the Office of Internships and Experiential Learning, the E-Learning Center, and the Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Scholarship. Faculty will also have the opportunity to work with our office for Research and Scholarly Inquiry to consider how their COIL projects may be used to expand their scholarship.

In addition to using resources from the SUNY COIL Center, we have gained valuable tools and insight from COIL initiatives at various CUNY colleges, including Baruch College and LaGuardia Community College. If you would like to further discuss COIL opportunities at BMCC, please contact Jessica Levin, Experiential Learning and Study Abroad Manager, at

Using COIL in the classroom

Students at BMCC will communicate online with their overseas partner classroom. The two groups will work on one or more projects. A minimum of 4 weeks is generally recommended for the collaboration between the two classrooms; COIL collaboration is not expected for the entire course. Classrooms can partner across disciplines and institutions (see examples of COIL-supported courses)  and can be used in online, hybrid and face-to-face course. Below is a sample course outline:

  • Week 1: Faculty prepares students for COIL project
  • Week 2: Student introductions
  • Weeks 3 – 4: Collaborative team project
  • Week 5: Student feedback of project, reflection and evaluation

How is the exchange between the two classrooms facilitated?

Faculty should choose technological platforms with which they are comfortable and will  receive support from our E-Learning Center to troubleshoot any issues before and during their course. Examples of technological platforms include Dropbox, Facebook, email, Google Drive, Skype, WhatsApp, and Zoom.

Does the COIL segment need to be in English?

While our BMCC courses are taught in English, it is possible to partner with a classroom with a different primary language. For instance, if you are teaching a language course you might partner with a classroom in another country which uses that language so your students can gain practice. If the two classrooms do not have the same language level, it is important to discuss and account for this discrepancy when planning the course.

What are the benefits of teaching a COIL course?

As a cost-effective initiative, COIL allows a larger number of our students to gain international exposure, global competencies, and real-world problem-solving skills that make them more competitive in the workforce. These goals align with the BMCC Strategic Plan 2015 – 2020. In addition to expanding global learning and digital literary in the classroom, faculty will have the opportunity to expand their professional network internationally and consider new ideas for research. See this COIL Publishing Guide from LaGuardia Community College, as well as the resources below.

Do I need to propose a new course?

A new course proposal is not required to participate in COIL. It is preferred that faculty modify an existing syllabus to enhance the global dimension of the course, without altering the overall course learning objectives. Faculty should consider which type of international collaboration will enhance student engagement with the course and further develop cross-cultural understandings.

The following questions from the SUNY COIL Faculty Guide may assist in this process:

  • Which components would be enhanced if students could discuss their implications with peers in another country?
  • Which components of your course might be de-emphasized and which could be more foregrounded to encourage time for extensive discussion and collaboration?
  • How would having multiple or different cultural perspectives enhance your students’ understanding of the course content and energize your classroom?
  • Are there projects that the two student cohorts could develop together or are there photos, videos or other course-related artifacts that students could exchange and discuss cross-culturally?

How do I find an international teaching partner?

For those who are interested in COIL, but do not yet have an international partner, we encourage you to explore partnerships within your professional networks and partner-finding websites such as and

As you begin your search, here are some questions to consider:

  • What geographic global perspective(s), if any, would best suit your course content?
  • Do you have colleagues in that part (or those parts) of the world? Do any of your colleagues?
  • Does your college have a partnership with an institution in that part of the world from which you can draw?
  • Are there academic communities or disciplinary associations that could help you connect with a colleague?
    – If they have a listserv or portal where colleagues can directly communicate with each other, you may wish to post a description of what you are seeking to do.

Additional Resources: