As a result of revolutionary change in remote and online working practices, triggered by the pandemic in 2020, the need for universities to prepare students for the international, virtual, workplace has never been greater. To remain competitive in a dynamic and uncertain global environment, employers need graduates who have knowledge, competency, creativity, confidence, flexibility, and resilience which is future proof. It is therefore incumbent on Higher Education to deliver new pedagogies that will deliver these graduate attributes with programmes that focus on experiential learning, problem solving, transversal skill development, interdisciplinarity and digital literacy (SUNY COIL Centre, 2019; Deardorff, 2009; Essig 2013). Within this context, classroom collaboration through online, international, virtual teams can be an effective strategy to enhance intercultural and employability skills. This presentation will share staff and student experiences of a Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) project which took place in semester 2, 2021. The project adopted a new approach to COIL which harnessed digital skills developed during the pandemic and took account of wider contextual challenges. It will also share the findings of a doctoral research project which took place in the Spring of 2020 involving a series of in-depth interviews with employers and alumni concerning the use of COIL as a method for preparing students for the future workplace. Five interviews were conducted before the UK Covid-19 lock down in March 2020, one on the first day of lock down, and 6 after the first lockdown had started. The timing coincided with a digital revolution in homes, schools, and workplaces and there was a high degree of reflection among participants about how COIL has moved from being something that will be necessary to embed in Higher Education teaching and learning strategies in the future, to something which universities have the tools, skills and imperative to embrace now.
CRAWFORD, I. 2021. Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) and COVID-19: employer and student perspectives. Presented at 2021 (Robert Gordon University) RGU's annual learning and teaching conference (LTC 2021): creativity from crisis: emerging stronger, 8-9 June 2021, [virtual conference].