Special issue


In recent years, obstacles to physical mobility, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, have hastened the turn towards online platforms for educational and social activities. Many study abroad programs have had to adapt to such circumstances and embrace virtual environments in the face of limited physical mobility. In this case study, we look at how one multi-university program, the UGPN Academy, was able to expand international student learning efforts despite travel limitations due, in part, to adapting to online communication technologies and environments. Through comparison of surveys administered to participants pre- and post-participation, students reported that having an online community as a source of social support, as well as learning about different experiences during a global pandemic, were two strengths of the program. In addition, students reported becoming more familiar with different online technologies as well as feeling more open to people from diverse backgrounds and international careers. These findings contribute to a further understanding of Internationalisation at Home (IaH) as a useful model that can be extremely valuable in its own right. Although IaH is not a replacement for physical mobility, it may provide its own benefits, such as providing a collaborative, diverse online community as a source of social and professional support, networking and opportunities for international learning experiences for students who are unable to participate in traditional study abroad programs. Diversifying and further integrating such virtual platforms can then be seen as a part of best practices rather than a replacement for traditional modes of international cultural exchange.

Practitioner Notes