COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning)

International Studies Student Presents at SUNY COIL 2018 Conference
April 2, 2018

Tristan Ross at SUNY COIL Conference

Tristan Ross, a freshman student in International Studies at SUNY Cortland, presented a research project at the SUNY COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) 2018 conference ( The SUNY COIL Conference was held at the SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology on March 16-17, 2018. Ever since he started his freshman year at SUNY Cortland, Tristan has been interested in the way technology can help internationalize students’ education. Under the guidance of Assistant Prof. Alexandru Balas, Director, Clark Center for Global Engagement, and Prof. Janet Duncan (Foundations and Social Advocacy)-who serves as the COIL Nodal Network Coordinator at SUNY Cortland, Tristan developed a questionnaire and interviewed all the SUNY Cortland faculty members who have integrated COIL modules in their classrooms. His very interesting findings were turned into a poster presentation for the 2018 SUNY COIL Conference. Prof. Balas stated that “Tristan’s findings show the importance of establishing in-person relations between professors here and overseas in order to create successful COIL modules. These findings also highlight the benefits for faculty members to develop COIL modules (reflection of their teaching and also other partnerships with colleagues overseas beyond COIL) but also the challenges faced by faculty members as they have to re-think the way they teach and assign exercises for an online format.” Balas continued by saying that “COIL modules are not MOOCs, but rather a liberal arts approach to global online education and an easy/cheaper way for students to have some global exposure without the study abroad component.” Tristan plans to continue his research project and turn this poster presentation into an academic journal publication.

SUNY Cortland was one of the pioneer universities in the SUNY System using the Internet to connect classrooms in Cortland with classrooms in Belarus in the early 1990s. Professor Craig Little (Emeritus, Sociology/Anthropology) was the force promoting this avenue for global exposure to our students. In 2014 our college received the American Council on Education (ACE) Award for Internationalization through Technology for all the innovative COIL courses taught on our campus. In 2016, SUNY Cortland was one of the four SUNY universities which helped the SUNY COIL Center receive the Stevens’ Initiative Grant worth U.S.$ 506,000. As part of the Stevens’ Initiative, SUNY Cortland Professors Janet Duncan (Foundations and Social Advocacy) and Ute Ritz-Deutch (History) participated in summer 2016 at a workshop in Beirut, Lebanon to develop COIL courses with partner universities in North Africa and the Middle East.

SUNY Cortland professors Charlotte Pass (Literacy Department), Janet Duncan (Foundations and Social Advocacy), Lynda Carroll (Sociology/Anthropology), and Alexandru Balas (International Studies) also participated at the 2018 SUNY COIL Conference.

SUNY Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)

The COIL Center’s mission is to develop and implement online collaborative international courses at SUNY as a format for experiential cross-cultural learning, thereby sensitizing participating students to the larger world by deepening their understanding of themselves, their culture, how they are perceived and how they perceive others. These globally networked courses also intensify disciplinary learning in fields where engaging other cultural perspectives is key. COIL builds bridges between study abroad, instructional design and teaching faculty through team-taught courses, thereby promoting, integrating and enhancing international education experiences across the curriculum. The COIL Center also works with international programs offices, helping them to integrate technology into their workflow. 

As Colleges and universities recognize their obligation to prepare students to live and work in a globally connected world, they struggle to find a way to internationalize the educational experiences they provide. Traditionally, this has meant ‘a semester abroad,’ but that is a privilege that only three percent of U.S. students enjoy. SUNY Cortland is meeting this challenge head-on with an experimental grant incentive program that uses Internet technologies to explore another more efficient way of globalizing its curriculum.

Three faculty members from diverse disciplines have received grants to reshape their courses or course components with a collaborative online international learning (COIL) approach. Students from Cortland and partner institutions in China, Japan and Germany will study and learn together, without leaving their native countries, in online environments. The grant recipients are Margaret Anderson (Psychology) who is partnering with a faculty member from Capital Normal University in Beijing, China on an Advanced Educational Psychology course; Timothy Davis (Physical Education), who is working with a Japanese colleague in a course on Motor Development; and Kevin Heisey (Sport Management), who is developing a course component in his International Sport Enterprise class that will become an entirely co-taught course with his German partner.

Faculty Guide to Collaborative Online International Learning Course Development

Request a copy of the Faculty Guide to COIL Course Development

Contact Us


Alexandru Balas, PhD
Professor and Coordinator
International Studies
About Prof. Balas

Sue Pettitt
Administrative Assistant
Clark Center for Global Engagement
Old Main, 122
Phone: 607-753-2250

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