Collaborative Online International Learning Faculty And Student Showcase Featuring MILE: St Mira’s College For Girls

Through COIL, students across the world collaborate virtually via ice breakers, critical thinking, shared course material, classroom experiences, assignments and interactions.

Laguardia Community College, City  University of New York (CUNY) developed a programme called Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) in order to provide their students with a global experience to expand their horizons. Through COIL, students across the world collaborate virtually via ice breakers, critical thinking, shared course material, classroom experiences, assignments and interactions. St Mira’s partnered with LaGuardia for the first time in 2019 studying the partition of India and other borders and partitions in the world. The exchange was so rewarding that LaGuardia Community College encouraged and guided St Mira’s to start its own programme MILE: Mira International Learning Exchange: A centre for virtual collaboration. The two colleges shared 2 courses in the Fall Semester 2020 and hope to share another 3 in the Spring Semester 2021. 

The culmination of all the collaborations is celebrated at the grand showcase which happens at the end of each semester at LaGuardia Community College. This semester LaGuardia had 12 collaborations of which 2 were from St Mira’s. The topics varied from quality education, the pandemic predicament to addressing stereotypes around gender, race and religion. Faculty members and students from each of the countries shared their experiences, the methodology followed the challenges and the rewards. Participants from Japan, America, Mexico. Egypt, France and Montenegro engaged in a truly warm and welcoming way of encouraging each other with comments in the chatbox and virtual clapping. 

Veena Kenchi from St Mira’s collaborated with Maria Savva (PhD) (La Guardia). The students studied a course on “Issues of Identity in India & US: Comparing Caste and Race”. For Veena, “My aim was to make my students realise that diversity is global... People with diverse identities exist and we need to be more accommodative and tolerant about this. Diversity is the spice of our culture. This was my small initiative to make my students take note of this. The virtual exchange program has been a wonderful boon for understanding and enriching our experience about issues of identity in the world community. COIL/MILE has been a wonderful learning experience for me as a teacher. Planning, organising and engaging students internationally in a virtual space truly helped in enhancing student learning.” Padmavathi Ramakrishnan, TYBA (Economics Spl) who took this course said, “COIL/MILE learning was a very useful programme. It was fun and knowledgeable. Having a healthy discussion on our cultural background and various other factors about each other's country and expressing our viewpoints have helped me understand not only their culture but also ours in a better way. I was very happy to know that no matter where we belong, the youth of this generation want to live in an egalitarian society and truly believe in unity and fairness for all. I would want to take part in more such programs.” 

Vaishali Diwalkar (PhD) and Vaishali Joshi (PhD) collaborated with Alice Baldwin-Jones (PhD) (La Guardia) to share a course project “Food Culture and Identity Politics in India and US”. Vaishali Joshi is delighted as it was a “Wonderful experience of collaborative learning!! Our course on 'Food, Culture and Identity Politics' under COIL/MILE was a very enriching experience. Through this intercultural exchange, we understood the significance of food as a part of social identity and social distinction and also food as a unifying bond in diverse cultures. The Showcase program provided a platform to interact with faculty and students from all over the world. Collaborative exchange is indeed a very promising way of learning.” Gauri Raje, an SYBA Sociology special student who was part of this collaboration says, “We are indeed what we eat. The course gave us a global perspective to look at food beyond the basic necessity.”

To conclude Olga Aksakalova(PhD), LaGuardia COIL Coordinator, feels, “Students who participate in COIL exchanges learn to challenge stereotypical portrayals of culture as they engage in authentic interactions with their international peers. Through constructive dialogue and collaborative projects, they are often in the position to question such binaries as self/other, and to turn borders into bridges.”

The United Nations put down 17 guidelines for sustainable development of which the 4th guideline is quality education for all. St Mira’s and LaGuardia along with all their partners are so proud to have in their own small way invested in the future.

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