The University of Groningen was recently awarded a 464,000 Euro grant from the European Forward Looking Cooperation Projects programme to mainstream Virtual Exchange as an innovative form of international learning in Higher Education institutions across Europe and beyond.
Virtual Exchange (VE) is a type of computer-mediated learning whereby students from geographically remote classes work together online (in pairs or small groups) on learning tasks developed by teachers and educational supporters from the participating institutions. There is an increasing interest in implementing VE to further internationalise educational programmes, but the feasibility and effectiveness of this form of collaborative online learning at institutional level have yet to be demonstrated to university leaders and policy makers in Europe. The EVOLVE project is set to achieve just that.
EVOLVE (Evidence-Based Online Learning through Virtual Exchange) will be carried out by a consortium of universities (Groningen, León, Grenoble, Open University UK, Jan Dlugosz PL, Padova, Warwick, Malmö), two virtual exchange providers (Soliya and Sharing Perspectives Foundation) and two large university networks (Coimbra Group and Santander Group). The project will be coordinated by Sake Jager, assistant professor in Applied Linguistics and project manager for ICT and Education at the Faculty of Arts.
The project will provide an innovative online training and coaching programme (‘Co-Laboratory’) for university educators and other facilitators planning to design and integrate VE in their courses. For recognition of competences and skills acquired, a digital accreditation system will be implemented based on the Open Badges standard. The training will initially be open to Coimbra Group and Santander Group members and their partners. In the final year of the project (2019-2020) the training will be offered to the public at large. The impact of the implemented VEs will be measured through state-of-the art research targeting outcomes at learner and educator level. The project results and findings will be shared with policy and decision makers in universities, university associations and national and European policy networks, thus raising awareness for VE and contributing to establishing it as an innovative educational practice.
The project will run from 1 January 2018 to 31 July 2020. For more information about the project, you may contact the project manager, Dr. S. Jager: firstname.lastname@example.org