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Global Learning Experience Meeting with DePaul University

Date:22 June 2018
Author:Sake Jager
GLE Project DePaul University
GLE Project DePaul University

On June 4th, several colleagues from the University of Groningen involved in the ENVOIE project gathered for a meeting with GianMario Besana, Rosi León, Daniel Stanford, and Joseph Olivier from DePaul University in Chicago. They are directors and support staff of DePaul University’s virtual exchange (VE) initiative called Global Learning Experience.

The Global Learning Experience initiative started five years ago with the aim to internationalise the curriculum, in particular for students who do not go on physical mobility. The ENVOIE project just started last year, which means that in several aspects, the Global Learning Experience (GLE) project is one step ahead of ENVOIE. Therefore, the main objective of this meeting was for us to learn from DePaul’s experiences in integrating virtual exchange as a tool for internationalising the curriculum and how to support and train staff members for their projects. We also discussed some opportunities for future collaborations between the University of Groningen and DePaul University.

Twice a year DePaul University organises a 2,5-week faculty development workshop which professors can attend after they have formed a partnership. The workshop is also open to partners, since they often don’t have support from their home institutions. The workshop, requiring a time investment of about 6-8 hours per week, provides participants with tools and tips to get started on designing their own virtual exchange projects. In the first week, the participants inspect example projects and start planning activities for their course(s). During the second week, the focus is on intercultural collaboration and communication. The aim is to provide the faculty members with a better understanding of conflicts for themselves and their students and discuss challenges that may arise during the virtual exchange. Also, they consider different technological tools and are prepared for writing their proposals.

Currently, DePaul has already trained 150 professors. After completing the workshop, professors get the opportunity to submit a proposal for a virtual exchange project. Approved projects are funded by microgrants, which are mainly used for travelling in order to meet collaboration partners face-to-face. The projects are then refined by discussing them with the partners as well as instructional technology consultants. Finally, DePaul University also assesses the virtual exchange projects by sending out surveys to both teachers and students.

It was very inspiring to learn about the extensive training and (technological) support DePaul University offers to their professors. This may be a model for the University of Groningen to build on, since currently educational and technological support for virtual exchange are available though projects only (in addition, to ENVOIE, training is also offered in the European EVOLVE project). Another possibility is to participate in the training offered by DePaul, especially for teachers seeking collaboration with DePaul.

The next training dates for DePaul University’s workshops are October 22 - November 2 and January 28 - February 8. The training is free of charge for other institutions in case there is a collaboration with DePaul University.  Are you interested in collaborating with a colleague from DePaul, but did not find a partner yet? DePaul University is willing to match lecturers from DePaul University to lecturers from the University of Groningen with compatible courses (DePaul University does not offer courses in Engineering).

If you are interested in participating in setting up an exchange with DePaul and participating in their training, please contact Sake Jager, VE project manager at the University of Groningen: s.jager

For more information on the GLE initiative, please visit:

See also: Presentation DePaul

About the author

Sake Jager
Sake Jager
ENVOIE Project Manager, Educational Support and Innovation