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Virtual Exchange Initiative

Office of International Initiatives

Academic Initiative

Groups Served
Collegiate

Program Website
Visit the Program Website

Contact Information
Nannette Commander
ncommander@gsu.edu
404-993-6282

Wolfgang F. Schloer
wschloer@gsu.edu

Farrah Bernardino
farrahb@gsu.edu

Address
30 Courtland Street, S.E. Suite 300
ATLANTA, GA 30303

Building
Dahlberg Hall

Campus
Alpharetta, Atlanta, Buckhead, Clarkston, Decatur, Dunwoody, Newton

Funding

Institutional Funding (e.g., President’s Office, Provost Office, College or Academic Unit, Departmental Funding)

Overview

Virtual Exchange is a teaching and learning practice that promotes intercultural competence across shared multicultural learning environments. Through Internet-based tools and innovative online pedagogies, Virtual Exchange fosters meaningful exchanges between students in geographically distant locations and from different lingua-cultural backgrounds. Housed in the Office of International Initiatives, the Virtual Exchange program creates international opportunities for students that might otherwise not experience global learning. Types of online exchanges include single assignments, peer review, cooperative learning, discussions, project-based learning, and/or service learning. Students gain intercultural communication skills, digital competence, teamwork, media literacy, and the ability to work in a diverse cultural context, all important 21st century employability skills. Thus, Virtual Exchange provides access to all students to experience international learning and significantly contributes to GSU’s strategic goal to achieve distinction in globalizing the university community

Benefits

Students gain intercultural communication skills, digital competence, teamwork, media literacy, and the ability to work in a diverse cultural context, all important 21st century employability skills.

Supplemental Materials

Not Applicable

Discipline Focus
Not discipline specific (University-Wide)

Diversity Group ( Social Identity)
Other, Other

Race/Ethnic Group
Does not provide racial/ethnic minority group specialized programming, Other

Program, Initiative, Policy or Sponsored Award Category

Priority 1: Academic Initiative

Established
August, 2019

Number Served
501-1000

Notable Alumni

N/A

Research Components and Activities

Not Applicable

Additional Research Components, Roles and Responsibilities

Faculty are invited to attend a “Designing Virtual Exchange” workshop. Faculty can apply to receive a professional development stipend for implementing Virtual Exchange in their class.

Self-efficacy Emphasis

The Virtual Exchange initiative addresses self-efficacy by promoting the development of students’ intercultural skills.

Acknowledgement/Affirmation of Identity, Strengths, Needs

The Virtual Exchange initiative acknowledges/affirms individuals different identities, strengths, or needs by providing opportunities to communicate with student peers from another culture in a respectful and professional manner.

Examples of Inclusionary Practices and Activities

Participant Empowerment

Mentoring Components
Not Applicable

Opportunities to Privilege Voice

Students are awarded badges for their participation in Virtual Exchange. They are encouraged to include the Virtual Exchange badge on their resume, curriculum vitae, professional portfolio, and anywhere they list their academic accomplishments. Students may add the badge to their LinkedIn profile, share it on any social media, or print an official certificate for your records.

Evaluation Methods
Not Applicable

Anticipated Participant Outcomes
Not Applicable

Other: Intercultural Skill Development, Academic Success

Outcome Milestones

The comprehensive approach to VE has grown. The number of students exposed to VE, the number of classes with VE elements, the range of disciplines represented, and the diversity of international partner countries and cultures continues to grow. With 856 students experiencing VE in fall 2021—up from 105 in fall 2019–we are on track to exceed the number of students who studied abroad pre- COVID by nearly 100%. In the spring 2021 undergraduate exit survey, 5.5% of students indicated they had a VE experience during their time at Georgia State, up from 1.5% just three years earlier. Over the same period, the number of courses offered with VE grew from 2 to 17.

Key Performance Indicators

Virtual Exchange has focused on assessing the impact of VIrtual Exchange at GSU on the global competency of students, as well as on standard measures of student success. Using the Intercultural Effectiveness Scale (IES), a widely used and validated instrument, we have conducted pre- and post-assessments of students’ intercultural attitudes and competencies, thus confirming the impact of Virtual Exchange practices across a broad range of disciplines. Currently, our program is conducting such a study in a multi-section Sociology course, using control groups to compare the impact of Virtual Exchange vs. no Virtual Exchange in an otherwise similar curricular and instructional environment.

Program, Initiative, Policy or Sponsored Award Category

Priority 1: Academic Initiative

Established
August, 2019

Number Served
501-1000

Notable Alumni

N/A

Research Components and Activities

Not Applicable

Additional Research Components, Roles and Responsibilities

Faculty are invited to attend a “Designing Virtual Exchange” workshop. Faculty can apply to receive a professional development stipend for implementing Virtual Exchange in their class.

Please describe how your program addresses self-efficacy (one's beliefs in their own ability to execute behaviors necessary to perform) in its participants?

The Virtual Exchange initiative addresses self-efficacy by promoting the development of students’ intercultural skills.

How does your program acknowledge or affirm individuals’ different identities, strengths, or needs?

The Virtual Exchange initiative acknowledges/affirms individuals different identities, strengths, or needs by providing opportunities to communicate with student peers from another culture in a respectful and professional manner.

Inclusionary practices/activities utilized in your program:

Participant Empowerment

Mentoring Components
Not Applicable

Opportunities to Privilege Voice

Students are awarded badges for their participation in Virtual Exchange. They are encouraged to include the Virtual Exchange badge on their resume, curriculum vitae, professional portfolio, and anywhere they list their academic accomplishments. Students may add the badge to their LinkedIn profile, share it on any social media, or print an official certificate for your records.

Evaluation methods are used to substantiate the program’s outcomes:

Not Applicable

Anticipated participant outcomes for your program:

Not Applicable

Other: Intercultural Skill Development, Academic Success