Curriculum Enhancement Program Sparks Virtual Classroom Collaboration
Through its newly launched Curriculum Enhancement Through Global Learning program, Global Affairs offers a professional learning opportunity for faculty looking to ensure their course content and teaching is preparing students to become global citizens.
The program, which is set to run annually, provides UC Davis faculty the opportunity to develop leading-edge practices for implementing global learning frameworks in the classroom. Grounded in theory and based on measurable student outcomes, the in-person course is taught by pioneers in the field of international education and helps faculty respond to the challenges and opportunities of a globalizing world.
In January 2018, Mary Lou Forward, executive director of the SUNY Center for Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), presented to the 2018–19 inaugural cohort of faculty. The moment she began speaking, John Goldberg, a lecturer in the Graduate School of Management at UC Davis, was hooked.
“We develop online collaborations between students and faculty in different universities, in different disciplines, in different cultures, in different countries, and even in different languages,” he recalls her saying. “And I’m looking at her, thinking, ‘What are you talking about? How can anybody possibly do that?’ But after a while, I thought, ‘How cool is that!’ and I immediately started looking in to doing this.”
The SUNY Center for Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) is a leading international organization focused on the emerging field of globally networked learning. Aligning with the campus “Big Idea” of Global Education for All—an initiative to provide 100 percent of UC Davis students with meaningful international or intercultural learning experiences—and the Curriculum Enhancement Through Global Learning program, COIL’s emphasis on implementing global learning opportunities in the classroom was a natural fit.
“I thought COIL was an outstanding idea, well presented and pretty easy to implement,” says Goldberg, who previously lived in Costa Rica and worked as a corporate manager at Chiquita Brands International.
Given his familiarity with the technical university Tecnlógico de Costa Rica, he started contacting engineering faculty about collaborating on a global learning project, receiving an enthusiastic response of “This is great! Let’s do it” from a materials science instructor.
With winter quarter already underway begun back in California at UC Davis, Goldberg decided to offer extra credit to any student team within his undergraduate technology class that wanted to work with a Costa Rica team. Five student teams took him up on the offer.
“The way it worked was the teams down there came up with an innovative product or service that related to material science or engineering,” he says. “Then my students worked with them to develop the business proposal for selling the idea and the ways to encourage investors’ buy-in.”
The choice of collaboration tools were left up to the students, ranging from email to WhatsApp to Skype and Zoom. Goldberg compared the cross-disciplinary project to working in a multinational company with different colleagues in different fields, giving the student teams leeway throughout the experience, serving as a model for working conditions after graduation.
“Basically, what they needed to do was communicate with each other about the development of the idea and then how that idea could be transformed into a business proposal,” says Goldberg. “Now we’re planning to do it again in the upcoming fall quarter, so that I can build the assignment into the curriculum and get even more professors at other universities involved."
When he proposed this updated idea to his Costa Rican counterpart, she was absolutely on board, even recommending that the pair look into funding opportunities so that the students can meet one another, work together and develop a relationship spanning beyond virtual communication.
“We’re definitely looking into the possibility of funding so that it maximizes the benefit to both sets of students,” he says.
“The experience lit a match for me and provided a great opportunity for students to engage with people from another culture and discipline, and learn how to work together. That’s what we do once we graduate, right?”
Reflections from the Students
About Global Affairs at UC Davis
Global Affairs brings the world to UC Davis, welcoming more than 10,000 international students, scholars and leaders, and hosting programs that inspire global curiosity, understanding and engagement. Compelled by the valuable outcomes of thinking globally, we make transformative opportunities a reality by supporting the thousands of students and faculty studying and researching internationally—and by facilitating collaborations that tackle the world's most pressing problems through more than 150 international partnerships.
Putting our vision of a UC Davis community that engages, thrives, and leads in this interconnected world into action, Global Affairs is now in pursuit of an ambitious goal: Global Education for All.