Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)

Personal Experience with COIL Classes: Prof. Dumanig

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Francis DumanigFrancisco P. Dumanig, Ph.D. The following experience was shared by Dr. Francis Dumanig , a professor of English with the Department of English and TESOL Coordinator.

What made you interested in using COIL in your class?

Learning these days is no longer limited to the four walls of the classroom. Technological advancement in the twenty-first century allows us to become global citizens and global students. For me, COIL is an innovation in teaching that embraces the reality of globalization. It will enable students to learn more outside their campuses and countries and help develop global perspectives and understandings of things, concepts, knowledge, etc.

COIL also introduces learners to a diverse language and culture. Learning and becoming aware of other languages, cultural beliefs, and practices lead to a better understanding of people worldwide. This eventually minimizes or even eradicates cultural biases.

How did you find an international partner?

The TESOL practicum requires students to have a first-hand teaching experience with English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners. Student teachers are required to fulfill a 30-hour internship, divided into class preparation, observation, and practice teaching. It also includes 10 hours of classroom observation, other TESOL-related activities, and 20 hours of supervised practice teaching. As a TESOL Coordinator, I ensure that our ESL practicum students meet all the required hours for practicum upon completing the certificate.

The COVID-19 pandemic opened new opportunities to engage in Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) with Asharqiya University in Ibra, Oman, and San Pedro College in Davao City, Philippines, in Spring 2021 and Spring 2022. I started the collaboration by contacting both institutions to discuss my plans to allow our UH Hilo students to do their practicum online. The discussions resulted in an MOU between UH Hilo and Aharqiya University and between UH Hilo and San Pedro College. After the MOU signing, both partner universities agreed to allow our TESOL Practicum students to do their teaching internship online, and both partner institutions provided an individual supervisor for the classroom observation and supervised practice teaching.

Teaching a class with COIL

How did you integrate COIL into your class? What objectives did you have for your COIL collaboration?

COIL was integrated into my class by allowing the TESOL Practicum students to do their online teaching internship in Oman and the Philippines. The integration provides opportunities for students to have a first-hand teaching experience with learners of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and English as a Second Language (ESL). This training allowed students to interact with professors from our partner universities who served as their internship supervisors.

The collaboration helped both the university and the students minimize the expenses of traveling overseas to get a first-hand experience of teaching EFL and ESL learners.

How did your students react to collaborating with international students?

UH Hilo students had the opportunity to teach and learn from other cultures in the Middle East and the Philippines. The practicum had an impact on students' learning and even on their personal lives, as reflected in the narratives below.

“The collaboration with Asharqiya University was invaluable for real-world experience in teaching. This knowledge applies to actual student reactions and learning outcomes and the cooperation of other teachers… This practicum class taught me a different culture that a standard classroom could never provide. The opportunity to learn about the culture on the other side of the world from Hilo is fantastic. I researched extensively to be culturally sensitive.”

“Teaching at Asharqiyah University in Oman was educational. The environment, technology-based materials, and methodologies helped further my understanding of how to teach the English Language online. This unique student teaching opportunity was one of the better experiences to come out of this current global pandemic for me. The partnership between the TESOL program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo (UH), and Asharqiyah University in Oman, facilitated by UH TESOL Program Coordinator and Professor Dumanig, appears to have been a mutually beneficial relationship overall.”

“I think it is important to note that this teaching practicum being conducted completely online makes it a unique experience. If I were to teach English online, I would know what to expect. As for teaching in-person, it would be a new experience, but I think overall, it shouldn't be too different from teaching an online class. I have enjoyed my experience teaching the students from A'Sharqiyah University and being supervised by Professor Riadh Belhaj. I am looking forward to when I get to teach my own English class(es) and gain more experience and knowledge.”

“The collaboration with Asdharqiya University allowed me to work on my communication skills with EFL speakers. Even though the teachers are excellent English speakers, they are still a part of a different culture of English speakers than we find in the US…Collaborating with the English department in Oman is a blessing as we learn that we are not alone in the world on our little island in the Pacific.”

“The lessons that I learned from the Teaching Practicum were invaluable. I feel fortunate to have learned different teaching strategies as a Foreign Language Teacher. I feel that the different teaching styles added to my understanding of how to teach. The lessons I learned will carry with me when I start to teach. This will enable me to formulate my own teaching philosophy and practice. I will become a better teacher because of these lessons, the teachers, the good experiences, and the challenges.”

Personal Evaluation of my COIL Course

What were the challenges you encountered in organizing the COIL interaction? (i.e. time differences, language barriers, communication with partner)

We encountered many challenges but sorted them out through constant communication with our partner universities. The time difference is a big hurdle, but we managed by meeting halfway to accommodate both schedules. We arranged the time schedules that were neither late nor early. Aside from the time differences, we also had to consider the different weekdays and weekends. In the Middle East, weekdays start on Sunday until Thursday; their weekdays are Friday and Saturday. Because of these differences, students had to adjust their schedules from the start of the semester. I had to inform and highlight to students during the first day of class the weekdays and weekends in Oman so they could plan earlier if they had prior commitments.

What was the most rewarding aspect of your COIL collaboration?

COIL collaboration has transformed my class into a global classroom and my students into global learners. The online TESOL practicum was a success where students did their teaching practicum in different parts of the world without traveling overseas. Students were grateful for the opportunities that became possible through COIL.