Increasing proximities and reducing distances through COIL Virtual Exchanges


  • Anisa Vahed Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou



Boschma proximity dimensions, COIL, team-based collaborative learning, virtual exchange


The Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) teaching and learning methodology has gained increased recognition as a nuanced form of virtual exchange, especially in the last five years in South Africa and during the Coronavirus-2019 global pandemic era. COIL serves to connect local and global entities as strategic partnerships are developed between higher education institutions in different countries. An important condition for its successful implementation to achieve targeted learning outcomes is the active involvement, creativity, and collaboration of disciplinary teams. These teams address the epistemological (knowing), ontological (self-identity) and praxis (action) elements of the curriculum. Drawing from Boschma’s dimensions of proximity, this paper uses a concurrent nested mixed methods research approach to explicate how the integration of COIL into the curriculum increases cognitive and social proximities while reducing geographical distances among students. This integration facilitates their access to and acquisition of various digital and research literacies, in addition to cognitive, functional, and social competencies.

Author Biography

Anisa Vahed, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou

Anisa Vahed is an Associate Professor of Practice at the Educational Development Unit of the Academy
of Future Education, located at Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou. She is also an Honorary
Research Associate at the Department of Operations and Quality Management at Durban University of
Technology in Durban, South Africa. A Fulbright Fellow, Teaching Advancements at Universities Fellow,
Future Professors Programme Fellow, and Y2 NRF-rated researcher, her research interests include virtual
exchange through COIL, the Teaching-Research-Professional Practice Development Nexus, Moving
Artificial Intelligence Scholarship, and Game-based teaching and learning. She has presented numerous
papers, workshops, and seminars on these topics in national and international settings.


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How to Cite

Vahed, A. (2024). Increasing proximities and reducing distances through COIL Virtual Exchanges. The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning, 19(1), 10–32.

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