SHARE Mapping and Identification: Study of Virtual Exchange Schemes in ASEAN
The global pandemic has affected internationalisation efforts of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across the world. One key affected area is international student mobility: given travel restrictions, HEIs have been required to find alternative ways to ensure the continuity of mobility and ensure that students are still able to develop their inter-cultural competence.
Virtual Exchange or Collaborative Online International Learning (VE/COIL) is a form of teaching and learning that has had minimal exposure within the ASEAN region. VE/COIL is seen as not only a possible alternative in the current restricted environment, but has the potential to be a permanent feature within the student mobility spectrum, complementing physical mobility. It is therefore timely to explore the understanding and practice of VE/COIL programmes within Southeast Asia.
The key finding from the study was that there is a need for students and universities within the region to have a clear definition and understanding of VE/COIL. Confusions exist between this and other forms of online learning such as virtual mobility. This can be attributed to the fact that universities have had to be agile in adapting to online learning without fully exploring and understanding the concepts and terminologies. Students in general are providing positive feedback of their experience; highlighting enhancing inter-cultural competence, the opportunity to work and interact with international students, and flexibility of learning as among the positive factors.
There is a strong potential for VE/COIL programmes to be developed and expanded within the ASEAN region. Universities are improving their technological infrastructure and accessibility, while students have shown interest in experiencing online learning. Although physical mobility will return once the pandemic is over, VE/COIL will have an opportunity to grow in a niche of its own and complement physical mobility programmes as an inclusive opportunity for more students to experience internationalisation and develop inter-cultural competences.
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