Taking international collaboration online: Virtual mobility projects

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‘Turning a threat into an opportunity’ is a phrase that we have heard a lot this past year. This is certainly reflected in the rise of virtual mobility projects in higher education. From online summer schools to collaborative projects, virtual mobility projects enable cross-border collaboration without the need for physical travel.

Illustrated Man Looks At A Computer Screen With A Female Colleague Waving Back At Him

Whilst the pandemic closed many doors it also opened many more. The ACU is delighted to be supporting our members with the funding and tools needed to deliver virtual mobility projects in partnership with other universities, and across multiple fields.

This year we launched the Medical Student Virtual Mobility Project Grants and Virtual Mobility Project Grants to fund collaborative projects between ACU member universities at a distance. From online summer schools to virtual events, these grants have and will continue to fund a broad range of virtual mobility activity across the Commonwealth to support student mobility, knowledge exchange and innovation.

The virtual elective provided opportunities that would not be available during a pandemic. It allowed students from two countries to work together each week, and develop an awareness of our similarities and differences in term of health issues/care and priorities with reduced costs and no travel or carbon footprint.

- Medical Student Virtual Mobility recipient, Dr Ann Wylie PhD, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, King’s College London

You can find out how recipients of the Medical Student Virtual Mobility Project Grants and Virtual Mobility Project Grants are using their grants below.

Virtual Mobility Project Grants

Universiti of Malaya, Malaysia and South Eastern University, Sri Lanka will deliver a collaborative student project on ‘Intercultural Microsoft Innovative Training’ to help students develop their digital skills. The project will involve 16 students from the Department of Curriculum and Instructional Technology, Faculty of Education, Universiti Malaya who will develop and deliver training to support 350 students from the South Eastern University, Sri Lanka. The activity will contribute to students’ intercultural skills and global knowledge, as well as other personal development, academic, employability outcomes.

Kitt University, India and Kampala International University, Uganda will deliver a virtual event looking at the importance of ethics and integrity during COVID-19. The event is designed to help students explore ethical dilemmas, ethical decision-making, and universal human values. This project is an attempt to explore how young adults are engaging with technology during this global communication crisis and to make them understand the importance of media integrity and ethics as a viewer and user.

The University of Derby, United Kingdom and the University of Education Winneba, Ghana will co-host a virtual event on ‘Education for Sustainable Development’ to support learning of the SDGs. This virtual mobility project will draw on UNESCO’s Education for Sustainable Development framework to develop an online inter-cultural exchange between students from Ghana and the UK that focuses on the theme of a sustainable future. The workshop will emphasise SDG 17, partnership for the goals, which seeks to strengthen implementation of the SDGs and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Newcastle University, United Kingdom and the University of Nicosia, Cyprus will deliver a virtual summer school on ‘Sharing Good Practice in Multilingual and Intercultural Virtual Learning Spaces’. The event will bring together 40 post-graduate Education and Intercultural Communication students from diverse backgrounds to develop their intercultural communication and multilingual skills for employability and global engagement. In addition to helping students improve their project management, leadership, and digital skills, the event will support cooperation among the two universities to promote intercultural exchange. One of the outputs of this project will be a series of case studies based on the experiences of participants and their experiences as teachers and/or teacher trainers that will be applicable to other contexts as examples of good practice.

University of Western University (UWO), Canada and the University of Rwanda (UR) will deliver a three-week online summer school to bring together students at Huron College at UWO, with undergraduate students at UR. The summer school will specifically have three areas of focus:

  • Genocide studies, peacebuilding, transitional justice, and peace education in a comparative context.
  • Rwanda’s post-genocide recovery, with particular attention to its transitional justice process (i.e. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Gacaca Courts, and ordinary courts), reconciliation experience, and local/community-level peacebuilding initiatives.
  • Canada’s post-genocide recovery with regards to its cultural genocide against the Indigenous peoples, with particular attention to its transitional justice process (i.e. the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada), reconciliation experience, and local/community-level peacebuilding initiatives.

Medical Student Mobility Project Grants

King’s College London, United Kingdom and Manipal Academy of HE, India co-designed and delivered a four-week long virtual global health elective course in a collaborative online international learning (COIL) model for students. The course focused on global health with weekly themes, including the impact of COVID-19 on global health, infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, and maternal health care. Drawing on their experiences, clinician academics from both schools shared insights and reflections on each of these themes. The students were put in smaller mixed groups to work together and build social connections to boost intercultural understanding.

The University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka and the National University of Singapore plan to deliver a collaborative student project looking at the comparative government/public health policies, management of patients, impact of culture on perception of disease.