Bulletin News

College Honored Nationally for Global Online Efforts


SUNY Cortland has been recognized by the American Council on Education (ACE), the primary coordinating body for colleges and universities in the United States, as a national leader in using technology to globalize higher education.

ACE’s first-ever Internationalization Through Technology Award noted the College’s meaningful links with classrooms on five continents and its history of online international learning and video-conferencing in areas ranging from teacher education to economic development.

“We deeply appreciate this recognition of our early adoption of technology as a cost-effective way to internationalize our coursework and connect SUNY Cortland students with global concerns,” College President Erik J. Bitterbaum said. “Through this approach we can help prepare all of our students for the global workforce, even if they are not able to study abroad.”

Bitterbaum accepted the $5,000 award Monday at ACE’s annual meeting in San Diego, Calif. The honor, given to only three other educational institutions nationwide, was created and awarded by ACE, SUNY’s Center for Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) and Asahi Net International, a learning technology company.

“The SUNY COIL Center and the innovative use of technology by participating institutions provides students with unprecedented access to a globally-rich higher education experience without requiring travel abroad,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher, who attended the ACE gathering. “By bringing this unique opportunity to students, college campuses and partnering institutions are enhancing the value of the degrees and programs they offer, and SUNY is proud to be a part of their efforts.”

For more than a decade, SUNY Cortland students have deepened their understanding of global affairs and foreign cultures by using technology to connect with instructors and students in other parts of the world.

As one of the first colleges in the State University of New York system to embrace and champion collaborative online international learning (COIL), SUNY Cortland has connected its students with people and perspectives in classrooms on the other side of the planet. Its students have explored social control with peers living in former Soviet republics. They have studied international economics and professional writing in virtual classrooms with students in Turkey and partnered with classes in Colombia, Brazil and China for classes in teaching English as a second language. Prospective student teachers have video-conferenced with school administrators and classrooms in Australia, and Cortland professors have used technology to connect students with Siberia, Japan, the Netherlands and other distant places.

As a founding partner of SUNY’s Global Workforce Project, the College has been instrumental in the creation of tools to help internationalize college courses in majors ranging from geography to sport management. In addition, SUNY Cortland has been a leader in using technology to make foreign language instruction more accessible, partnering with SUNY Brockport to use videoconferencing to offer Mandarin Chinese classes taught in Cortland to Brockport students.

Cortland has long been a pioneer in using the Internet to assist foreign language instructors at all levels of American education, creating online programs and tools that are widely used. Two SUNY Cortland modern language professors, Jean LeLoup and Robert Ponterio, founded FLTeach, an online forum for language instructors, in 1994. It has since evolved into a respected, online community for 5,400 language teachers in 80 countries.

"This award honors the great work done by our colleagues at SUNY Cortland in a wide variety of fields, and I would like to congratulate them all,” said Alexandru Balas, director of the College’s James M. Clark Center for International Education. “I want this award to serve as the foundation for a more purposeful and campus-wide internationalization through technology campaign at SUNY Cortland."

The Clark Center is the campus coordinating body for all international education, research and service efforts at SUNY Cortland. It works in collaboration with the College’s International Programs Office, which provides study abroad opportunities to hundreds of students each year.

SUNY Cortland has one of the strongest study abroad programs in the SUNY system and has committed to doubling the number of students who travel to foreign countries as part of their education by 2019. Recent agreements with partner institutions have included a commitment to pursue online learning opportunities as well as hosting students.

Details of SUNY Cortland’s leadership efforts to enhance global awareness and understanding through technology include:


Craig Little, a distinguished service professor in SUNY Cortland’s Anthropology/Sociology Department, was among the founders of the SUNY COIL Center. He partnered with educators in Belarus State University and Moscow State University in 2004 to offer a collaborative sociology course in social control using the SUNY Learning Network. That effort was so successful it has been offered eight times since, and been expanded to include Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia.

Several other COIL initiatives have since evolved over a spectrum of fields. Associate Professor German Zarate-Hoyos, chair of SUNY Cortland’s economics department, partnered with a colleague at Anadalu University in Turkey to offer this class to students at both institutions through videoconferencing in 2012 and 2013.

English professors Vicki Boynton and David Franke collaborated with Anadolu University in Turkey and Capital Normal University in China, respectively, to create COIL modules that used Skype and other online connections to pair aspiring travel writers at Cortland with students learning to write English in Turkey and China. Boynton is currently working on establishing a similar program in Morocco.

Associate Professor Paulo Quaglio partners with English language students in Brazil and Colombia to give SUNY Cortland student teachers an opportunity to create lesson plans and practice teaching through Skype. Associate Professor Hongli Fan partnered with an instructor at Capital Normal University in 2012 to offer a class where students from both countries communicated to each other via email as part of regular assignments. This year, Fan is working with a new partner at Yuncheng University in China to co-teach a similar online course.

SUNY Global Workforce Project

In 2009, the College -- led by Assistant Professor William Skipper, chair of Cortland’s Anthropology/Sociology Department -- partnered with the College at Brockport and the SUNY Levin Institute to develop globalization modules on topics that instructors in a variety of fields can work into their courses such as sustainability, nationalism and trade. After a dozen SUNY Cortland instructors successfully piloted the program in 23 courses, the project in 2012 was put online in the form of a Website hosted by the Levin Institute. Globalization101.org makes the curriculum available to faculty at all 64 SUNY campuses.

Individual initiatives

The School of Education has used videoconferencing for more than a decade to connect pre-service student teachers with their host schools and classrooms in Australia. 

Distinguished Service Professor Henry Steck, a longtime member of SUNY Cortland’s political science faculty, and Lecturer Karen Hempstead, a faculty member in the School of Education, held a teleconference on educational reforms with colleagues at Omsk State Pedagogical University in Southwestern Siberia. The 2010 event was attended by SUNY Cortland faculty and students and will be used as a model for future international faculty seminars.

Associate Professor of Art and Art History Martine Barnaby and her SUNY Cortland students last fall participated in an online talk with Copenhagen-based artist Simon Høgsberg, whose multi-media work was displayed in the College’s Beard Gallery in downtown Cortland.