Factors enabling and constraining students’ collaborative online international learning experiences

Anisa Vahed*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Virtual Exchange Project (VEP) emerged as a pedagogically-innovative and low-cost initiative to internationalise the curriculum and create team-taught coursework that links university classes in different countries. A COIL-VEP was formed between Durban University of Technology (DUT) in South Africa and Nassau Community College (NCC) in New York. The project entailed understanding business applications in developing a prototype to reduce material wastage in dental laboratories. In conjunction with acquiring discipline-specific knowledge, students had the opportunity to develop cross-cultural awareness and to use various technology-mediated tools. The aim of this study was to elicit students’ opinions and experiences related to a COIL-VEP. A quantitative and cross-sectional research design following a positivist paradigm was used. The 2018 second-year Dental Technology students (n = 14) from DUT and the Business Management students (n = 21) from NCC participated in the study. An anonymised and descriptive questionnaire was used to collect data, which were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Positive results encompassed five categories, namely: project introduction and preparation; cultural and diversity competence; impacts on personal behaviour; quality of learning; and overall experience and course quality. Although COIL is a nuanced teaching and learning paradigm, collaborative online learning is impeded by inadequate pre-training on intercultural awareness, insufficient prior knowledge of discipline-specific content, and the exclusion of a gradable component.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)895-915
Number of pages21
JournalLearning Environments Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Business management
  • Collaborative online learning
  • Dental technology
  • Digital technologies
  • Intercultural awareness


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