Make Online Internationalization Inclusive
Internationalisation was mostly understood as (physical) mobility between universities: for students and staff. In Europe e.g. well-known as Erasmus+ Mobility. Within the context of a globalised world where the internet meant momentum, internationalisation in higher education integrated international, intercultural and global dimensions in order to connect across borders, learning reciprocally and equally to find solutions to the great challenges of our time. Internationalisation in higher education is inextricably linked to the meaning of higher education to society and the contribution to sustainable development goals SDGs. There is now a rapid emergence from physical travel to other possibilities, including online internationalisation. In this module, you will gain insight into some of these proven forms.
The shift mentioned in the introduction to the significance of internationalisation of higher education (HE) in the broad social context is reflected in the following definition: “The intentional process of integrating an international, intercultural or global dimension into the purpose, functions and delivery of post-secondary education, in order to enhance the quality of education and research for all students and staff and to make a meaningful contribution to society.” (De Wit et al. 2020)
Technology is impacting internationalisation in higher education at various levels.
There is growing demand for virtual mobility and exchange in higher education. Only a minor percentage of students have the opportunity, or the desire, to go abroad for a full degree or even short term, ranging from 1–5 percent in most countries in the world, 10 percent in the US, to 20–30 percent in countries like Germany and the Netherlands. To equip all students for the global knowledge society we live in and address the educational needs of immigrant and refugee populations, tertiary education needs to use online opportunities. In such a way, internationalisation is more carbon-neutral (De Wit and Altbach, 2020), increases the contribution of internationalisation to society (Brandenburg et al. 2019) and links the global to the local.
Digital technologies can enable or facilitate internationalisation at the individual level (letting students, faculty members and staff to virtually and temporarily move to a foreign higher institution), or at a programme or institutional level.
Virtual exchange developed over the past 30 years from experience in the field of educational exchange and study abroad – and evolving rapidly with the explosive growth in new media technologies and platforms – has been integrated in higher education and is distinctive in its use of new media platforms to enable deep, interactive social learning. The Erasmus+ programme Virtual Exchange is open to any young person aged 18-30 residing in Europe and the SoutherMediterranean.
The use of technology is impacting internationalisation and mobility in a variety of ways. Like ‘internationalisation’, ‘digitalization’ is a generic term, covering a broad variety of activities, models, and approaches.
Open university models offer another common form for internationalisation. Through online education, they can have an international character in that it provides international access to such programs without the barriers of physical mobility. See, for example Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, a pioneer player in online education in Europe and partner in the project eInclusion.
Massive open online courses MOOC are another form, in which courses are offered online, free of charge, and open for everyone. Over the past decade, the number of MOOCS has increased as well as the number of international users and providers.
Online internationalisation at home and online curriculum internationalisation.
At the turn of the century, there emerged a need for higher education institutions to respond to a compelling call for globally competent citizens and professionals. This imperative requires paying attention to the considerable group of non-physically mobile students. The concepts of online internationalisation at home and online internationalisation of the curriculum have come to the fore.
By internationalisation at home we refer to the purposeful integration of international and intercultural dimensions into the formal and informal curriculum for all students within domestic online learning environments (Beelen and Jones, 2015).
By contrast, online internationalisation of the curriculum is the process of incorporating international, intercultural and global dimensions into the content of the online curriculum as well as the learning outcomes, assessment tasks, teaching methods and support services of an online program of study (Leask, 2015).
Increasingly, the concepts of online internationalisation at home and online curriculum internationalisation are considered to be similar in content and focus. Incorporation is the key concept. The goal is not to squeeze even more content into already-crowded study online programmes but to open the online curriculum to new perspectives. As a teacher, begin by clarifying why an international dimension or a global outlook is important for your students, the degree programme in which you teach, and your discipline. Then spell out what “the international” means in your context. This will give you important pointers for implementing internationalisation of your online curricula. Depending on your context, these can be vastly different but in a short article in Times Higher Education(2021) Tanja Reiffenrath points out five important tips to do so:
- Stimulate a change of perspective
- Encourage and foster exchange amongyour students
- Consider the local dimensions of internationalisation and globalisation
- Raise comparative questions
- Enable your students to participate in international networks
Online mobility programs and collaborative online international learning
In Europe, The Erasmus+ programme Virtual Exchange is open to any young person aged 18-30 residing in Europe and the SoutherMediterranean. Also increasingly spreading is the collaborative online international learning (COIL), developed by the State University of New York system, now quite broadly used around the world. COIL is an interactive model of teaching and learning, in which joint courses are taught online by teachers from partner institutions, with active involvement of their students.
COIL allows institutions to develop international and intercultural learning outcomes for their students without the limitations of physical mobility and related costs, and therefore is a relatively inexpensive, less elitist, and cost-effective form of mobility. It brings mobility home and is now recognized as a valuable alternative to traditional models of mobility and thus internationalisation.
In the particular context of inclusive education, decolonising the curriculum is a point to consider. Decolonising requires a critical wonder about knowledge and how we approach knowledge that reinforces monolithic, monocultural, mono-epistemological academic traditions (Biermann, 2011). It means creating spaces and resources for dialogue among all members about how we imagine diverse cultures, perspectives and knowledge systems and how this frames the world.
Internationalisation is a process in constant evolution, which changes in response to local, national, regional, and global environments. As explained, internationalisation in higher education is entering a new phase. A shift from mainly internationalisation abroad with its focus on privileged students (seen from worldwide perspective) toward internationalisation at home and within the curriculum, making use of online facilities. Making internationalisation more carbon-neutral (De Wit and Altbach, 2020), increasing the contribution of internationalisation to society (Brandenburg et al., 2019) and linking the global to the local, are imperative. Supporting more active virtual exchanges and Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), and addressing the needs of immigrant and refugee populations, are some of the key tasks of internationalisation in the next decade.