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.

Examples of activities include problem-based assignments, collaborative research and writing, small group discussions, group projects, etc. Student collaboration may be synchronous or asynchronous, as long as the technology used to connect students supports the goals for student learning.

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.

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 already established course objectives while also enabling students to examine topics from varied cultural and societal perspectives
  • 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.

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 spring 2021 semester, the Colorado School of Mines is piloting COIL with the Navoi State Mining Institute in Navoiy, Uzbekistan. If you are interested in COIL, but would like to consider a different institution, please see MINES partnership database to learn about other possible COIL partners.
  • 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.

If you are interested in the pilot program with Navoi State Mining Institute in Uzbekistan, funding is available.  Faculty from any department are encouraged to learn more about this pilot program with Navoi State Mining Institute by setting up 30 minute meeting with David Wright:

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?
  • Think about task design:
    • Task design is important since many well-intentioned collaborative activities often end up not being collaborative at all. For example, if students are asked to co-write an essay, what often happens is that they divide the work up so that they are co-dependent, i.e. the final product depends on the various parts, but is not collaborative as each partner individually completes their part. Collaborative tasks must, therefore, have some degree of inter-dependence, e.g. completion depends on knowledge, information and/or artifacts that only peers have access to and that cannot be found on the Internet.
  • Contact David Wright in Global Education, 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.


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Golden, CO 80401 

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