Bringing the world to Atlanta: Georgia State University’s Virtual Exchange Initiative creates enriching experience
For some students, the financials of study abroad or the circumstances of everyday life can prohibit them from embarking on an international study. The Virtual Exchange Initiative at Georgia State University is bringing an international perspective into classrooms – both in-person and online.
Launched in 2019, the Virtual Exchange Initiative allows instructors to foster exchanges between teachers and students in geographically-distant locations. Through course assignments, online discussions, project-based learning and other items built into the curriculum, students are able to collaborate with other students internationally, gaining a global perspective.
“The Virtual Exchange Initiative makes it possible for all students to participate – to have this global learning and international experience,” GSU Virtual Exchange Faculty Associate Yali Zhao said. “The Virtual Exchange program allows them to learn about other parts of the world, to learn about different people and their cultures and education systems as college students.”
Current projects include a collaboration between a GSU sociolinguistics class with an institution in Kazakhstan, a case study with a school of business in Tunisia, and more. Many of the programs are completed asynchronously, allowing students from Georgia State and one of the more than 50 partner institutions to complete initiatives anytime. Students are often placed in groups with international students during initiatives, allowing cultural exchange through course communication.
Since the program started in 2019, more than 5,000 students have completed initiative projects, which are of no cost to students. Zhao said the initiative attracts a diverse, multicultural group of students, many of whom would be unable to study abroad. These students receive a badge after completing initiatives, which can be shared on résumés for future employment.
Zhao, an associate professor of social studies and multicultural education, has completed initiatives with schools in Hong Kong, Korea and China. Through these projects, she and her peer instructors and students were able to share resources for primary education, practices for teaching and perspectives on global issues. She hopes other faculty will weave initiatives into their classes – and students join them – to create a larger network of international understanding.
“We encourage faculty to do this collaborative, international online teaching,” Zhao said. “A lot of faculty in different departments and different disciplines have been working with so many faculty members in different countries and regions. All of the students are able to communicate with international students working on projects and have great opportunities to learn from each other.”
Are you searching for an internationally-engaged online experience? Enroll in one of Georgia State’s 95 online degree programs and get plugged into the network of opportunities to learn with others across the globe.. Find the perfect degree or certificate program today.