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The COIL Experience: A Journey of Internationalization with Professor Rossy Toledo

The Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) initiative at UTK has been a transformative experience for students and faculty alike. One such faculty member, Professor Rossy Toledo of the Department of World Languages and Cultures, has shared her experiences and insights from her recent COIL project.

The COIL Project

Rossy Toledo, Distinguished Lecturer, World Languages and Cultures

In the fall of 2023, Professor Toledo embarked on a COIL project that connected her Intermediate Spanish Honors students at UT with students from the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla in Mexico. “Over the course of six weeks, our students worked together, utilizing their language skills to increase their intercultural competencies and gain a better understanding of global citizenship.” Professor Toledo Commented.

The project was structured around weekly activities, starting with an icebreaker session, and culminating in a final reflection on the concept of global citizenship. Students in Prof. Toledo and her faculty partner, Prof. Abelardo Fernández Romero’s classes were able to successfully engage in meaningful intercultural exchanges through their collaborative tasks and final video projects on global citizenship, all completed in the target language. The students utilized educational platforms such as Padlet to share personal videos and the multiplatform messaging app WhatsApp to maintain contact and collaborate synchronously.

The Impact

The COIL project had a significant impact on the internationalization of the curriculum of Prof. Toledo’s course. A total of 62 students were impacted, spending a combined total of 496 hours in COIL activities. The students were able to describe the similarities and differences between their culture and their partner’s, reflect on the concept of global citizenship, and consider how the COIL experience had shifted their perspective on this concept.

Prof. Toledo’s students will also participate in a newly developed COIL Career Readiness workshop that will align their COIL experience with the NACE Career Readiness Competencies, helping them identify and articulate the value of global learning on their CVs, resumes, and in interviews.

Lessons Learned

Screenshot of student partners interacting virtually in bilingual game of Pictionary

The COIL project was not without its challenges. Professor Toledo noted that her students in Knoxville and their partners in Puebla had to coordinate together to work through differences in time zone and internet bandwidth/connectivity issues. Access to learning management and social media/messaging platforms were also an occasional challenge students faced. Cultural and technological issues such as these enhance students’ problem-solving skills, encourage teamwork and communication, and require critical thinking and intercultural fluency—all important skills for the global workforce.

In conclusion, the COIL project led by Professor Rossy Toledo exemplifies the transformative potential of international collaboration in education. It serves as a testament to the power of COIL in fostering global citizenship and enhancing intercultural competencies among students.

The COIL Program at UT

The COIL program at UT is a key initiative in promoting accessible and inclusive global learning opportunities. It enables students to engage in real-world scenarios, work with peers from different cultural backgrounds, and gain valuable intercultural experience.

Want to learn more about COIL at UT? Check the Center for Global Engagement website at Collaborative Online International Learning | Center for Global Engagement ( or contact the COIL Manager, Dr. Danielle Walters (