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Career Centre

Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange

How students experience intercultural exchange from home

Since the winter semester 2019/20, the Career Centre has been offering two new types of courses that make it possible to acquire intercultural skills in a digital setting: Interactive Open Online Courses (IOOCs) and Social Circles.

General conditions

These courses offer the opportunity to discuss current social and political issues with students from various foreign universities. This not only strengthens their understanding of global relationships and critical thinking, but also transversal competences such as the sense of responsibility and presentation skills.

Over a period of 4 to 10 weeks, students from all over Europe and the southern Mediterranean meet online to gain insights into the culture and mentality of different countries. They are in a secure digital setting, controlled by a moderator (facilitator). The discussion takes place in English, but does not require mature language skills.


You can enrol for the events as part of the Career Centre's competence development programme and via the ASQ pool. Students can thus earn three to five ECTS points, depending on the course. In addition, they receive "digital badges" which certify their acquisition of various competencies during the course. The latter are particularly known in other EU countries and in the context of Erasmus, and can therefore be highlighted in application documents. Through their participation in Social Circles and Interactive Open Online Courses, students are well prepared for the application process or selection procedure of a scholarship as well as for a stay abroad.

After successful participation in one of the programmes, students have the opportunity to broaden their own professional profile through further training as a facilitator in order to moderate IOOCs and social circles themselves.


What is a Social Circle?

Social Circles are a good introduction to the new possibilities of the Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange programme. An interactive and open dialogue takes place there. During a period of 2 weeks, participants have the opportunity to discuss interesting topics with individuals from different cultures. The participation takes about 2.5 hours per week for the processing of tasks and intercultural dialogues on the respective topic and the subsequent live dialogue between all participants.

At the end of the programme, you will receive 3 ECTs and a "digital badge".

Soon you can find new dates and registration opportunities here.

Feedback of the participants

„There are so many great people out there who are looking forward to coming into exchange with students from other countries and sharing their experiences and culture with others.
I am very happy to have had this experience and I will definitely participate in the program again in the future.“

„I enjoyed the open and constructive way in which we dealt with the opinions of others in our group.
There was a lively exchange that encouraged me to bring my own opinion into the discussions.“

Here you can read more about the experiences of students.

What is IOOC?

IOOC means "Interactive Open Online Course" and, like Social Circles, offers space for meaningful and intercultural exchange between young adults of different nationalities.

Over a period of four to ten weeks, interactive and valuable discussions on socio-political topics take place, controlled by a facilitator. Academic experts provide various materials and tasks, which are developed from week to week.

For this format, you should schedule about 2 hours per week.

Important note: you need not speak "perfect" English; instead you will find that you can improve your language skills significantly during this period.

After completing the programme, you will receive 5 ECTs and a "digital badge".

Feedback of the participants

Feedback of the participants

„I would recommend everyone to take a Virtual Exchange course as ASQ. You can't invest your time at the university in a better way.“

Here you can read more experiences of students.

Further information

  • Discussion rounds with people from other cultures and thus building relationships across national borders and cultures
  • Learning from and with academic experts
  • Improvement of language and communication skills
  • Development of skills that are essential for working in a virtual and intercultural environment
  • Development of self-confidence, empathy and stimulation of curiosity
  • Participation in an international network of Erasmus+ and Virtual Exchange

In the first classroom session, all participants receive an introduction to the "Virtual Exchange" concept and create their individual competence profile.
In the second session, the participants exchange experiences in a group, reflect on the online sessions and on the digital and intercultural skills they have acquired. 

Due to the corona pandemic, all attendance appointments are currently taking place in the form of zoom webinars.

Digital badges are designed to demonstrate informal skills that are not covered by a university or participation certificate.

They are awarded if a participant stands out through special activities, initiative and commitment. Therefore, they are a supplement to the certificate of participation. Depending on the participants' competence, there are 3 levels:

  • 1 star: Basic understanding (fulfilment of tasks according to instruction/request)
  • 2 stars: Advanced knowledge (independent provision of knowledge)
  • 3 stars: Expert knowledge (competence to train or instruct others)

Digital badges are therefore in great demand on the German and on the international labour market, but also for scholarship applications. 


Facilitators supervise the individual groups with their respective subject areas.

They take a neutral stance and thus try to ensure a respectful and authentic dialogue on various topics. They do not take part in the discussion itself and stay in the background, but do their best to give all participants the opportunity to express themselves and to be heard.

Facilitators are also responsible for creating a safe and effective learning atmosphere. The further training of a facilitator includes the development of skills such as active listening, summarizing, reinterpreting and creating an awareness of group dynamics. Thus, a facilitator practices constant reflection, multi-tasking and teamwork.

Here  you can learn more about the work of a facilitator and about the possibilities of further education.