Virtual Exchange and Blended Mobility in University Education

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Virtual Exchange and Blended Mobility in University Education

7 February, 2023 - 16 February, 2023

The Utrecht network is happy to announce the workshop on Virtual Exchange and Blended Mobility in University Education: An Introductory Course for University Educators and International Officers.  

Trainer: Dr. Robert O’Dowd (University of León, Spain), [email protected]
Dates: 7 / 9 / 14 / 16 February 2023

This course will have four contact days over a two-week period.

The course is a combination of live sessions via zoom and asynchronous tasks and discussions which will take place in a Virtual Learning Environment.

Total number of hours for participants: 20
• Total number of contact hours online via videoconference: 8 (2 hours per day)
• Estimated total number of off-line hours for reading and asynchronous interaction: 12

Live online sessions via zoom:
7 February: 16.00-18.00 CET
9 February: 16.00-18.00 CET
14 February: 16.00-18.00 CET
16 February: 16.00-18.00 CET

What is Virtual Exchange?

Virtual exchange (VE), also commonly referred to as Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), is a term used to describe different approaches to engaging students in online intercultural collaboration projects with partners from different countries within their programmes of study and under the guidance of teachers.

Virtual Exchange has become a popular way for teachers across all subject areas to internationalise their classrooms and to give their students first-hand experience of intercultural communication and using their digital skills.

What is Blended Mobility?

Blended mobility is the combination of both physical mobility and structured online collaboration (European Commission, 2021). In other words, blended mobility programmes combine the engagement of students in online activities and collaboration with teachers and students from other countries on their subject area with the opportunity to travel to one of the partner universities to work together at the same location.

The new Erasmus+ programme (2021-2027) promotes a form of blended mobility called “Blended Intensive Programmes”.

These involve short periods of physical with a virtual component facilitating collaborative online learning exchange and teamwork.


The aim of this online course is to familiarise participants with Virtual Exchange and Blended Mobility as pedagogical activities for engaging students in authentic intercultural collaborative projects with international partners. The focus will be on providing examples from across the disciplines – STEM, the Humanities and Social Sciences subjects – and teachers from all subject areas are welcome.


• Introduce the concepts of Virtual Exchange and Blended Mobility and how they are being employed in university contexts.
• Make participants aware of the potential learning outcomes of Virtual Exchanges and Blended Mobility.
• Present a practical guide to the steps for setting up and running a Virtual Exchange or Blended Intensive Programme.
• Provide materials and support to help teachers prepare online collaborative tasks for their students in their subject area.
• Enable participants to network with others in order to establish potential Virtual Exchange partnerships in their subject areas.


Participants will be required to read about, observe, and discuss the different aspects of running Virtual Exchange (VE) and Blended Mobility projects.

They will examine and analyse different examples task design, assessment, and strategies for integrating the exchanges into coursework.

The online sessions will be interactive, and participants will have many opportunities for general discussion and debate about the underlying principles and issues related to Virtual Exchange, including using a foreign language, students’ digital literacies and intercultural communication breakdown.

Participants will be provided with lots of examples of VE and Blended Mobility projects in their subject areas and will have opportunities to apply ideas to their own particular contexts. In breakout activities, teachers will be matched as much as possible with colleagues from similar subject areas. Members of international offices will also be matched together.


Day 1: What is Virtual Exchange? What is Blended Mobility?

Examples of projects and initiatives in different subject areas in university education

Day 2 What is an effective task in online collaborative learning?

Designing effective tasks for your Virtual Exchange in your subject area
Designing an effective programme for a Blended Intensive Programme

Day 3:  What communication technologies to use in your Virtual Exchange/Blended Mobility project?

Approaches to assessment in Virtual Exchange/Blended Mobility

Day 4 Integrating a Virtual Exchange into your course and curriculum

Finding partnerships for your Virtual Exchange/ Blended Mobility project in your university networks

Participant Profile

The course should be of interest to teachers from all subject areas who are interested in internationalising their courses and also in preparing their students for the global workplace.

The course may also be of interest to members of International Offices who are interested in promoting Virtual Exchange and Blended Intensive Programmes as a form on internationalisation at their institutions.

A high level of digital competence is not required to take part in the course. However, an openness to working with and learning about online technologies in education is a prerequisite.

The course will be run in English and participants will have opportunities to use different online tools and platforms.

Participants will also have ample opportunities to engage in discussion with their course colleagues and to find partners for their future Virtual Exchange / Blended Mobility initiatives.

Trainer’s Biodata

Dr. Robert O’Dowd is Associate Professor for English as a Foreign Language and Applied Linguistics at the University of León, Spain. He has taught at universities in Ireland, Germany and Spain.

He has carried out training courses in Virtual Exchange for numerous university networks and has published widely on the application of Virtual Exchange in university education.

He was the founding president of the UNICollaboration academic organization for telecollaboration and virtual exchange ( and has been invited to be plenary speaker at international conferences in the US, Asia and across Europe.

Among recent activities, he was invited in 2019 to be co-editor of a special edition of the prestigious journal Language Learning & Technology on the theme of Virtual Exchange in Foreign Language Education.

He also coordinated the Erasmus projects Integrating International Networks in Higher Education (INTENT) (2011-2014) and the European Policy Experiment Evaluating and Upscaling Telecollaborative Teacher Education (EVALUATE) (2017-2019).

He is currently coordinating the Erasmus+ European Policy Experiment Virtual Innovation and Support Networks for Teachers (VALIANT) (2021-2024) and is collaborating with various organisations and national authorities to carry out evaluation studies of Virtual Exchange programmes.

Robert’s publications are available here: and you can follow him on twitter @robodowd.


Deadline for the registration is 20 January, 2023.

The course is open to the colleagues from MAUI, EAN and REARI-RJ networks.

For the registration form. please click here