Virtual Exchanges: Fostering Positivity Across Borders

Virtual Exchanges: Fostering Positivity Across Borders

A smiling person points to an inflatable globe while at an outdoor event

November 29, 2023 – Santa Fe College believes that preparing globally competent students will help them adapt to an ever-changing world as well as effect positive change. International Education exposes students to content and activities that further that mission.

Virtual exchanges and Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) allow students to engage with peers in other parts of the world. Students develop communication and technological skills and learn how their global counterparts are really no different from them.

“The first round of exchange was just focused on introductions for the students,” Rebecca Johnston, Assistant Professor in Santa Fe College’s English Department, said. Johnston’s LIT1000 class at the Davis Center recently completed an exchange with a Japanese class led by Dr. Hideo Yanagisawa from Meijo University. Both classes read Ernest Hemingway’s “Soldier’s Home” for discussion and analysis.

“We watched a few of the Japanese introduction videos in class as I showed students how and what they should upload. The first video we watched was made by a student who very professionally and academically introduced herself to my students, who were impressed by her level of professionalism. At the end of her brief video, the student paused and said, ‘And this is my favorite shark stuffie’ and pulled a shark stuffed animal into the video range. My students cheered and laughed in a very supportive way and one of my students said, ‘She’s just a normal person.’ And that is one reason for virtual exchange. These are just normal students, this is a small world, and we can navigate it together.” 

Connecting students from across the planet can be as easy as it sounds. Johnston wants people to know that virtual exchanges don’t require a lot of energy to implement.

“Working with Dr. Hideo’s class was an enjoyable experience and did not add excessive work to my day,” Johnston said. “We used a platform called Flipgrid that allowed students to upload videos of discussion due to the time difference that did not allow for synchronous discussion. Flipgrid was easy for me and students to navigate.”

In addition to their accessibility, Johnston cannot stress the importance of virtual exchanges enough.

“Virtual exchange such as this is important because students need internationalization and global competencies to compete in today’s job market. These competencies can be gained through study abroad, but not every student can study abroad, so they can instead gain some global competencies through virtual exchange while also gaining a deeper understanding of the literature they have been assigned through a shared learning experience.”

Learn more about Santa Fe College’s International Education opportunities: