Document Type

Report - Open Access

Publication Date

Winter 2021


global education, international education, global learning, internationalization at home, post-secondary education, COIL, collaborative online international learning


International educational experiences are widely recognized as vital to both student educational development and the Canadian economy. However, only one in ten students in Canada studies abroad during their post-secondary programmes; at colleges, this number drops to one percent. Meanwhile, historically-underrepresented groups including racialized and Indigenous students, students with disabilities, and lower-income students continue to face additional barriers to study abroad and therefore have limited access to international education. The last decade has seen increased interest in “Internationalization at Home” – strategies for supporting global learning that do not require physical mobility - arising, at least in part, from efforts to address gaps in accessibility. The cessation of almost all travel during 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the development of Internationalization at Home methods, the most widely-employed of which is COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning). Per the definition offered by the SUNY COIL Center – a major international hub for student and faculty practitioners – COIL is “…an approach that brings students and professors together across cultures to learn, discuss and collaborate as part of their class” (SUNY COIL, 2021), most often through virtual communication platforms.

Seeking to expand access and innovate opportunities for international education, in Fall 2020, Sheridan College initiated the development, delivery, and assessment of COIL curriculum, funded by a generous grant from Colleges and Institutes Canada’s Outbound Student Mobility Program: Winter 2021 Pilot Study. COIL fits squarely into Sheridan’s Academic Plan for 2019-2024, which seeks to “advance quality teaching and deep learning through inclusive, learning-focused design,” in part through a new Internationalization and Global Connectivity Strategy (Sheridan, 2020).

This report emerged from the Winter 2021 pilot and aims to offer a resource to faculty, staff, and students at Sheridan and beyond, who would like to better understand existing practices and research on COIL methodologies as well as learn from Sheridan’s experience piloting its first COIL course. The report begins with a literature review contextualizing the emergence of COIL practices within international education at the post-secondary level and summarizes key findings from studies evaluating the efficacy of the method at achieving intercultural competence, digital media literacy, team building and communications skills, employability, and other benefits for students, faculty, and institutions. This review also assesses the limited research regarding the experiences and needs of underrepresented students in international education.

Next, this report offers an overview of the Sheridan College’s CICAN-sponsored pilot COIL course, “The Creative City and Culture,” two sections of which were offered in Winter 2020. This pilot was unique in that it located a COIL project within the cross-college Breadth Elective


Conducted by Dr. Genevieve Amaral, Principal Investigator and Associate Dean in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences with literature review and research assistance by Kelly McLay

Project Funding: Colleges and Institutes Canada


Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences (FHASS)

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Original Publication Citation

Dr. Genevieve, A. & McLay, K. (2021). Developing Global Education Opportunities at Sheridan College Using COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning). Outbound Student Mobility Program.