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What’s a COIL and its benefits for students?

A COIL is an ABP-based collaborative project (Project-based learning) with an international component that allows students the acquisition of intercultural knowledge very useful for their professional development.

This methodology is born in 2006 at New York State University (SUNY) based on learning by projects in an internationalized manner but realized from our houses. The word COIL comes from: Collaborative Online International Learning.

COIL’s structure

COIL projects are based on three cornerstones focused on knowledge, collaboration and reflection between students from different universities and institutes. The purpose is to develop a collaboration project between two institutes or universities connected through technology to carry out a common work.

It is a highly innovative tool that fosters the acquisition of international skills for participants.

The organization of a COIL is simple, as it can be applied to all disciplines and students, it can even be very useful to break down barriers and create interdisciplinary collaborations. The only difficulty of the language has to be seen as an opportunity for students to strengthen their fluency in another foreign language, for example English.

Any COIL will consist at least in three parts:

  • The initial part shall act as “icebreaker” so students will interact with the rest of cultures and a new work network will be created.
  • Afterwards, the opening of the collaboration stage where work will be developed in coordination.
  • Finally, there will be a final balance of the project during which students will reflect on the work process.

Advantages of a COIL for students

With respect to the benefits of a COIL for students, there are plenty and could be divided into:

  • Motivation of students.
  • Learning based on real problems that encourage making decisions, autonomy and communication.
  • Complex, creative and systematic thinking.
  • New intercultural and collaborative relations.
  • Acquisition of knowledge from other cultures, greater multiculturality.
  • Greater preparation for a future labour market ever more globalized.
  • Fostering team work, creativity and entrepreneurship.
  • International experience without difficulties due to movements.

COIL Benefits for teachers

On the other hand, a COIL also represents a source of advantages for teachers organizing and coordinating, among which we can highlight:


  • Exchange of didactic strategies, evaluation methods and learning results.
  • Improvement of language, technology and virtual technology skills.
  • Professional growth and extension of academic networks.

In addition to the many advantages, it is worth mentioning that with the new COVID-19 situation, the organization of COIL projects is even more recommended and useful which means that it can be a very useful alternative to tackle international movement restrictions.