Over the past 20 years, the concept of Virtual Mobility has increasingly found its way into internationalization discourses at universities, and has subsequently been closely linked to the concept of “Internationalization at Home”. As the name implies, this term refers to a purely digital study or teaching experience that allows participants to gain intercultural experience over a particular period of time without physically leaving the country.
In contrast to this approach, the concept of Virtual Exchange (VE) places a clear focus on dialogue and (ideally) long-term transformative teaching and learning. For example, according to the definition provided by the “Virtual Exchange Coalition”, this concept refers to “technology-enabled, sustained, people-to-people education programs”. This network has existed since 2011, and interested parties can find information on the innovative projects and activities of various participants here.
The recording of the March 23, 2018 webinar “Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange and Internationalization at Home” featuring Dr. Francesca Helm and Sarah Guth of the University of Padua offers interested educators an optimal introduction to this subject. This webinar was hosted by the Education Innovation Working Group of the Coimbra Group in cooperation with the Academic Exchange and Mobility Working Group and the eLearning Center of Jaggelonen University of Krakow.
In the Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange webinar, Helm, who is also the vice-chairperson of the Education Innovation Working Group, and Guth draw on accompanying research, showing in an exemplary manner the extensive structure and diversification of this service in the field of digital intercultural dialogue. They present and mediate good practice examples of the multi-faceted way in which students, educators, and colleges can benefit from Virtual Exchange and contribute to “Internationalization at Home”. To the video
Further contributions to the webinar series of the Education Innovation Working Group of the Coimbra Group are available online. To the videos
The general target group of this program is young adults from Europe and the southern Mediterranean countries. Participation in one of the four digital dialogue formats is not contingent upon affiliation with a university; however, from a teaching perspective, these formats provide multi-faceted possibilities for the enrichment, expansion, or new conception of courses.
The format of Online Facilitated Dialogue offers students an intercultural, interdisciplinary, multiethnic, and potentially in many other aspects heterogeneous learning environment. In the framework of moderated group dialogue, they can reflect on their own impressions and engage in processes of negotiation with others. The online discussions take place over a period of 4-8 weeks and can be accompanied by individual work with portfolios or can complement a classroom course, in which case students can, for example, train their cultural-reflective reasoning skills or practically test out their English as a world and second language – these are just a few of the numerous conceivable objectives of this format.
If you are interested in using Erasmus+ in the framework of your teaching activities, here you can find further information on the Connect program, which provides access at the institutional level, and apply for the program via the “expression of interest” link.
In contrast to this simpler implementation, Erasmus+ also offers the so-called Training to Develop Virtual Exchange Projects (TEP) program. This is a training format for teachers, the goal of which is the cooperative implementation of a transnational and interdisciplinary teaching project. In two consecutive online modules, participants first gain insights into VE and become familiar with good practice projects developed by Erasmus+. The subsequent Advanced Training module accompanies the participants’ cooperative planning and design process. Further information can be found here.
Please note that the current application period for TEPs runs until 19 May 2019.
Successful participation in a TEP program may be counted for 1 work unit credit per online training unit (1 AE = 45 minutes) for our 120 AE Certificate in Area A (Teaching and Learning Concepts) at the Basic Level. Detailed information on the Advanced Level Certificate.
If you would like to complete a TEP and have it credited your ProfiLehre certificate, please make an appointment with us to clarify the process and address any questions you may have.
In addition to this obligatory preliminary meeting, those prospective participants who would like personal advisement and support from ProfiLehre regarding TEP or the integration of Online Facilitated Dialogue in their courses can apply for free coaching, which begins with a two-hour consultation meeting.
Upon completion of coaching, you will of course also receive a certificate of participation which contributes to two work unit credits (Area A, Basic Level) for our University Teaching Certificates.
If you would like to take advantage of coaching on the topic of Virtual Exchange, please contact us at:
Tel: 0931/ 31-84538