‘Virtual internationalisation’ in the college and university curriculum’
The challenge of offering international experiences in colleges and universities is proving to be an expensive and time-consuming business, with less than 1% of UK university students participating in a semester or year abroad. Some students are simply unable to commit to travelling abroad for reasons such as inadequate finance, family commitments or health/disability issues. The adoption of practices such as ‘internationalisation at home’ or ‘virtual internationalisation’ can therefore offer institutions a viable alternative to expensive and lengthy overseas visits. Roehampton’s Promoting Internationalisation through Cultural and Structural Adaptations (PICASA) project is currently investigating these alternative ways of working with more than 20 institutions in the EU, Eastern Europe and India.
Our research indicates that there are some effective alternative ways of ensuring that a university is able to work collaboratively with international partners, in order to offer all its students the possibility of an international experience at the home institution. Through the setting up of Web 2.0 based virtual, co-run and co-validated modules on traditional taught programmes, students can gain an excellent understanding of their discipline from an international perspective. Such modules can be run with students studying in a range of related or unrelated subject areas, and students will gain an awareness of the challenges of learning and working internationally. For the staff involved, the modules offer an opportunity to work with international academic and research colleagues, which gives them an enhanced and up to date understanding of disciplinary developments in other countries.
The ‘virtual internationalisation’ model will be explored with a selection of recent case studies from UK, European and Indian universities who work collaboratively with staff and students in other countries. The focus will be on cost-effective, workable solutions that can be applied across a range of discipline areas, age groups and language backgrounds. Implications for joint planning, quality assurance and institutional learning and teaching policies will be reviewed. Case studies from the PICASA Project are due to be published in December 2016.
virtual internationalisation; internationalisation at home; mobility; programme design; ICOMs
Middlemas, B. & Peat, J. (2015) ‘Virtual internationalisation’ and the undergraduate curriculum in UK and overseas universities. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, Vol. 3, No. 3, November 2015
Bridget Middlemas is a senior lecturer in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education at the University of Roehampton, London, with expertise in the internationalisation of higher education. She is one of the lead academics on the EU funded PICASA Project, which aims to promote the internationalisation of the university curriculum through cultural and social change. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Bridget has given conference presentations on learning and teaching in higher education in more than 15 countries, including Armenia, India, Italy, Lithuania and Switzerland. She taught in UK schools for more than 15 years, and has worked in the higher education sector since 2002. Her interests include educational IT; using social media for learning and teaching; multi-format assessments; and inclusive pedagogies.