COIL Standard – #3

COIL Standard – #3

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Collaboration Standard

Decorative image of the COIL logoLearners construct a culturally collaborative and respectful dialogue in an international virtual team, both verbally and non-verbally.

Review these Explanations

In an international virtual team it is expected that learners will play an active role in achieving the objectives of the diverse team, forge collaborative relationships, and effectively navigate conflicts within the team setting. Moreover, learners are anticipated to exhibit an understanding of different work styles and the cultural foundations that underpin them. This comprehensive approach to cross-cultural communication not only facilitates smoother interactions among team members from various backgrounds, but also fosters a more inclusive and productive team environment. Such collaborative approaches to intercultural learning are represented in constructivist learning environments (Bennett, 2017a; Harvey, 2001). Effective activities in a COIL course/module encourage learners to work together with both their partner instructors and fellow learners. They also provide opportunities for learners to share resources and learn from one another. Expectations between instructors and course participants are best when made clear, consistent, and appropriate for the duration and structure of the COIL course/module. Making all course expectations explicit, and ensuring regular and substantive interaction and feedback are scheduled in advance help to create an equitable environment for all course participants. 

Detailed course interaction guidelines should be provided in all languages of the learners within the COIL Course Information/COIL Syllabus materials prior to the project starting. These guidelines establish the expectations and specify norms for interactions between partner instructors and learners in the course, such as the frequency, timeliness, and caliber of interactions that are expected. These guidelines also set the tone for frequent learner partners/teammate interaction throughout the COIL course/module.

When participating in a COIL virtual exchange, it is important to remember to establish timelines, due dates, expected deliverables, expected time frame(s) for learner interaction(s), and to build in flexibility to accommodate unforeseen delays in COIL course/module deliverables. Flexibility is key! To get off to a good start, provide learners with all COIL course/module material(s) in both languages at the start of the activities. These are typically co-created by the co-instructors. Expectations should be clear and concise and outline the COIL course/module deliverables from both partner institutions, with considerations for holidays, breaks, and unforeseen circumstances that may impact activities and due dates. Regular interaction with and between both co-instructors and learners is essential to foster engagement and active participation throughout the COIL course/module activities.


Bennett, M. (2017a) Constructivist approach to intercultural communication in Kim, Y (Ed). International Encyclopedia of Intercultural Communication. Wiley.

Harvey, T. (2021, August 10). A constructivist approach to intercultural learning. True North Intercultural.

Explore these Additional References:

Association of American Colleges & Universities. (2014). Intercultural Knowledge and Competence VALUE rubric. Retrived from

Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Bennett, M. (2017b). Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity. The International Encyclopedia of Intercultural Communication, 1–10. 

Chun, D. M. (2013). Developing Intercultural Communicative Competence through Online Exchanges. CALICO Journal, 28(2), 392-419.

Deardorff, D. K. (2022). Assessing Intercultural Learning Outcomes in COIL Courses. In The Guide to COIL Virtual Exchange. (pp. 287-297). Stylus Pub.

Doscher, S. (2022). Professional development for COIL Virtual Exchange: What should it entail? In The Guide to COIL Virtual Exchange (pp. 244–273). Stylus Pub.

Dusi, P., Messetti, G., & Steinbach, M. (2014). Skills, Attitudes, Relational Abilities & Reflexivity: Competences for a Multicultural Society. ProcediaSocial and Behavioral Sciences, 112(2014), 538–547.

Hesson, S., Seltzer, K., & Woodley, H. (2014). Translanguaging in curriculum and instruction: A CUNY–NYSIEB guide for educators. CUNY NYS Initiative on Emergent Bilinguals. 

Katre, A. (2020). Creative Economy Teaching and Learning–A Collaborative Online International Learning Case. International Education Studies, Vol. 13, No. 7.

Kim, L. (2015, August 3). 9 places to learn a new language online for free. 

Meade, J. (2021, December 16). Are You Prepared to Lead a Diverse Team? Harvard Business Review.

Refresh your course with these ideas

General Suggestions

  1. When participating in a COIL virtual exchange, it is important to scaffold assignments by providing detailed expectations, rubrics, examples, clear instructions, and low stakes opportunities to practice skills, activities, and technologies. 
  2. Provide opportunities for greater engagement in learner-to-learner interaction to support deeper learning and more culturally responsive critical thinking.
  3. Encourage learners to work together to build team skills and collaborate to complete tasks and objectives for the COIL course/module assignments. Consider best practices in the design of online collaborative learning activities to support engagement and participation. 
  4. Encourage learners to be positive in how they approach the COIL activities/assignments, and design interactions to intentionally result in deeper cultural learning experiences. Create collaborative activities and peer assessments that require trust and a strong sense of class community for success. 

Cross-Cultural Considerations

Culturally collaborative and respectful communication is a crucial aspect of all intercultural interactions, encompassing both verbal and non-verbal exchanges. There are a number of tools and resources that can be incorporated into COIL activities, interactions, and project assignments. Opportunities for intercultural engagement and reflection should take place consistently throughout the COIL experience, and these resources can be helpful to design and facilitate those important activities and conversations.

Explore Related Materials & Tools

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The COIL Standards have been developed by a community of COIL online practitioners interested in quality online course design and international virtual experiences. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

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