Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)

What is COIL?

Collaborative Online International Learning or COIL is a virtual exchange program aimed at supporting faculty in creating structured collaborative international learning experiences, facilitated by technology, between their students and students from an international partner institution.

COIL expands global learning opportunities to a greater number of students.  It is an innovative pedagogy involving collaborative teaching and learning in two (or more) countries facilitated by online communication.  Faculty collaborate with a counterpart at an institution abroad to develop a joint assignment/project, and students at Mines and the corresponding counterpart’s course then work together to complete the group assignment/project that meet shared learning objectives.

A COIL experience is a lesson in academic content, as well as in intercultural communication and collaboration, for students and faculty alike.

In sum, COIL connects your course/students with an international partner who teaches a course in a similar discipline.  COIL assignments/projects vary in scope and duration, but typically last between three and four weeks.

Students in classroom

Program Goals

  • Create an opportunity for students to develop crucial competencies and address engineering challenges through bilateral cooperation;
  • Expand virtual learning to include meaningful cross-cultural collaborative experiences as part of a Mines’ education
  • Enhance teaching and learning, as well as facilitate transformative international partnerships, with faculty and higher education institutions around the world.

How to develop a COIL assignment/project

STEP 1: Schedule a COIL Info Session

If you would like to know more about the COIL program and opportunities to create a COIL assignment/project in your course, please consider meeting with David Wright in Global Education. Details about the program will be discussed, including the overall process, timelines, and resources for establishing the COIL connection. Please email to schedule a meeting.

STEP 2: Find a Partner

Successful COIL collaborations are built on solid partnerships between faculty members. If you do not already have an established international partner for your COIL assignment/project, the steps below are intended to help you in this process.

  • For the 2020/2021 academic year, the Colorado School of Mines anticipates piloting COIL with the University of Nicosia in Cyprus. See MINES partnership database for further details on this partner.
  • Make an inventory of your existing international contacts. Often faculty members have international research and/or professional collaborations but have never thought about engaging their collaborators in classroom projects. Planning a COIL assignment with a colleague with whom you have already interacted and whose working style is familiar to you increases your chances of success.
  • Leverage the existing network of Mines’ international partners through Global Education.
    • Although it is not required to partner with an institution with which Mines already has an established relationship, these institutions can be an excellent place to start.
    • Contact Mines’ Assistant Provost for Global Education who can assist you in finding partners from institutions in your areas of expertise.

Submit your course assignment/project and learning outcomes to the COIL Database if you would like us to help you find a partner at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus. Link coming soon.

STEP 3: Co-Design Your Assignment/Project

Once you have been paired with a faculty member abroad, work together to co-design your assignment/project and learning outcomes.

  • Consider the following aspects when designing your assignment/project:
    • Learning outcomes: What should student know or be able to do as a result of the
      assignment/project? How do the learning outcomes for the assignment fit within the larger course?
    • Assessments: What assessments (e.g., group presentation, ePortfolio, reflection, etc.) will allow you to know if students have met those outcomes? Consider using rubrics to help you assess the extent to which students have mastered the outcomes.
    • Activity design: How will you introduce the assignment? How will you structure and facilitate collaboration (email, Zoom, Teams, etc.) between universities? What resources/supports will students need to be successful? How will you provide opportunities for practice and feedback?
  • Deadlines
    • Fall 2020
      • Request partner course at the University of Nicosia by July 3

Contact Amy Hermundstad Nave in the Trefny Center, who can further help you develop the pedagogy of a COIL assignment/project.

STEP 4: Enact Your COIL Assignment/Project

Create a plan for enacting your COIL project. For extended assignments/projects, be sure to check in with your students. It takes time and practice to develop skills such as communication and teamwork. Consider incorporating an assignment where students reflect on their experience with the COIL project.


Global Education
Green Center, Suite 219
924 16th Street
Colorado School of Mines
Golden, CO 80401 

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