Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
About us Faculty of Arts Our faculty Organisatie Services and facilities CLIQ - Centre for Learning Innovation and Quality Projects ENVOIE - Enabling Virtual Online International Exchange Archive

About ENVOIE (phase 1)

Project goal

To kick start Online International Exchange (OIE), as a university-wide practice in the University of Groningen.


OIE is a form of computer-mediated learning whereby students from geographically remote classes work together online (in pairs or small groups) on learning tasks developed by teachers and educational supporters from the participating institutions.

Although this form of international learning has existed under different names (‘virtual exchange’, ‘telecollaboration’, ‘online international learning’) for some time, the interest of educational institutions worldwide in OIE is growing fast because of its potential for enhancing intercultural communicative competence, language proficiency, digital literacy, and discipline-specific or transversal collaboration skills (21st century skills). OIE offers a relatively low-cost, additional tool for internationalisation. The EU has recently launched a major new initiative in this area, Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange (EVE). Professional organisations, such as COIL and UNICollaboration are organising conferences, training and support for teachers to meet the increasing demand for this form of learning. Finally NGOs and other not-for-profit organisations, are setting up facilitated online networks in which students from participating institutions exchange ideas and share perspectives on global problems and societal challenges (e.g. Sharing Perspectives and Soliya Connect).

OIE, in other words, is a rapidly evolving form of online learning which helps institutions to develop their strategic aims and pedagogical innovations. Although well aligned with the University of Groningen’s International Classroom objectives, OIE is as yet a niche activity in the UG.

ENVOIE has been set up to help faculties, departments and instructors implement this form of online learning across disciplines in international partnerships in which they are engaged. By involving instructors and students (and their foreign partners) in six faculties and setting up appropriate support structures, the project will establish OIE as a more permanent, sustainable form of online learning in the UG.


Project Manager: Sake Jager, Centre for ICT & Education, Faculty of Arts


  • Faculty of Economics and Business
  • Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences
  • Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies
  • Faculty of Arts
  • Faculty of Spatial Sciences
  • University College Groningen

Supporting units:

  • ICT & Education, Faculty of Arts
  • Educational Support & Innovation (ESI), CIT
  • Language Centre

See also: partners.

The project is co-funded by the Board of the University as part of the E-learning Tender 2017-2018 with a grant of € 100.600.

Project outline

The project runs as a series of subprojects - one for each of the exchanges planned, with a dedicated support team consisting of instructional designers, technology supporters, intercultural communication experts and internationalisation officers. Target courses in which OIE will be implemented have been identified, together with the foreign partners with whom the collaborations will be carried out. OIE specifics such as time, duration and learning outcomes of the exchanges are currently being specified.

The support teams will help the teachers through three stages of the project:

  1. Design phase: in this phase, for which most resources will be used, the tasks that students will work on will be designed by the teachers in collaboration with their foreign partners under the guidance of the ENVOIE expert team, specifically assigned to help to develop the particular online exchange.
  2. Running phase: during this phase the exchange will be run in the context of the courses in the international partnership; the team will provide the support structure for dealing with questions and managing (technical) incidents during the exchange. E.g. Nestorsupport and faculty technology supporters will have a role in this.
  3. Evaluation phase: In the period after the exchange, the results will be evaluated by education researchers (ESI) and recommendations will be made for improving the exchange for the next run.

Completing these phases will take two or two and a half semesters (1 for preparation, 1 block or 1 semester for running, 1 block for evaluation) for each exchange at most. Exchanges will be prepared for running at different times between August 2017 and December 2018.

The support teams for each exchange will work closely together, with technology supporters, intercultural communication specialists and pedagogy experts sharing and consolidating information at their respective levels of expertise. Regular reports and experiences will be shared through this website and educational events and conferences in the University of Groningen and elsewhere.

Project management, training and dissemination activities will be developed alongside supporting the exchanges themselves. A steering group consisting of key stakeholders at university and faculty level will be implemented in the initial stage of the project.

Learning Technologies

Key learning technologies in this project will be collaboration and videoconferencing tools, such as Blackboard Collaborate and Google Apps (the project will contribute to promoting these tools further in the university). In addition, students engaged in these exchanges will be developing their digital literacy skills using various Web 2.0 and other tools. From previous experience and from the plans that have come in, we know that these may include other collaboration tools (wikis, blogs), media literacy tools (prezzis, video presentations, animations, screencasts), information literacy tools (Mendeley, Zotero, etc.), research literacy tools (R, GIS tools), and emergent technologies such as virtual expositions and virtual labs. It is essential that these tools are well integrated in the course and task design for the exchanges. The ENVOIE support team will provide the didactical and technical assistance for this.

Last modified:23 December 2020 09.50 a.m.