ACE Members Use Technology to Expand Access to International Education

November 13, 2018

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A group of American and Japanese colleges and universities are coming together through an ACE initiative to design courses that bridge the borders between their classrooms using technology.

The U.S.-Japan COIL Initiative is fostering virtual exchange through collaborative online international learning (COIL), a method developed and promoted by the State University of New York’s (SUNY) COIL Center that uses online communication to help teachers and students from different countries work together. Because it does not necessitate travel, COIL is a low-cost and accessible approach to bringing multicultural global learning opportunities to more students.

COIL first derived from efforts across the SUNY system to develop more online courses with an international dimension. The SUNY COIL Center now helps a number of institutions implement the method, including six chosen as a part of ACE’s U.S.-Japan COIL Initiative.

US-Japan COIL Workshop
Attendees at the U.S.-Japan COIL opening workshop at ACE pose for a group photo.

Several of the initiative’s participating schools applied in tandem with existing Japanese partner institutions, while the rest had their partnerships arranged for them by the program. Some of the participating institutions already have similar virtual exchange programs or long-standing partnerships with Japan. Others are just starting to expand their international education offerings.

The University of Alabama, for example, has an established relationship with its U.S.-Japan COIL partner Chiba University, among other Japanese institutions such as Ritsumeikan University and Meiji Daigaku, with which they manage exchange programs. Alabama is looking now to expand this partnership into the virtual realm.

DePaul University already has an existing virtual exchange initiative very similar to COIL called the Global Learning Experience, but it is using this opportunity to expand the program to Japan, where it did not have any virtual partners.

Sinclair Community College comes to the initiative as a two-year institution where most students do not study abroad. They have several short-term faculty-led study abroad programs, but virtual exchange will allow more students to have a more prolonged global experience and help the institution expand its internationalization efforts.

The U.S.-Japan COIL participants met in person with their partners at an introductory workshop hosted by ACE last month and will continue to collaborate throughout the next two years.

—Carly O’Connell

At a Glance

Participating Institutions:

Initiatives: U.S. Japan COIL Initiative and SUNY COIL Center


  1. Expand higher education ties between the United States and Japan by forging international partnerships.
  2. Demonstrate the effectiveness of the COIL method and using technology to facilitate international education.
  3. Increase student access to internationalized educational experiences.

Become a member: As a member of ACE, you join nearly 1,700 organizations that collectively promote, protect and advocate for students, faculty and administrators in higher education. ACE is the most visible and influential higher education association in the nation, and we are at the center of federal policy debates concerning legislation that affects campuses across the country. See more on the ACE website.

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