This past winter break session, SDSU Global Campus hosted a Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) course. COIL is a methodology that connects students and professors in different countries for collaborative projects and discussions as part of their coursework.

In a world where COVID-19 has made it very difficult for students and faculty to travel internationally, COIL programs have become a great way for students and faculty to stay globally engaged with a variety of virtual tools.

COIL course screen shot winter 2020

Students from SDSU’s School of Journalism & Media Studies and the PSGR Krishnammal College for Women in Coimbatore, India participated our first COIL program this past winter.

This was a true international and interdisciplinary collaboration between SDSU Global Campus, the SDSU School of Journalism & Media Studies from the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts, and the GRG School of Management Studies from the PSGR Krishnammal College for Women in Coimbatore, India. The SDSU course that took part in this collaboration was the winter session offering of JMS 462 – Advertising Strategy & Social Media, taught by Alexa Mokalis of the School of Journalism & Media Studies, which covers the best strategic use of social media from an advertising, branded perspective. The participating GRG course was MB19DMK – Digital Marketing, taught by Dr. S. Kavitha.

As part of this COIL collaboration, students from both institutions participated in a live lecture session held by Dr. S Kavitha of GRG, focused on content related to social media and analytics. From there, using Slack as the mediating technology, Dr. Kavitha and Professor Mokalis created a collaborative discussion board and hosted an open-ended, intercultural conversation about a brand with a social media presence in both countries: Coca-Cola. Students from both courses were invited to evaluate the brand’s digital presence and effective use of social media in both countries. 

Slack technology allowed students to respond to one another’s posts and thus created engaging two-way conversations, even though they were across the world from one another. The COIL Collaboration continued into early February when SDSU instructor, Alexa Mokalis, hosted a live lecture for Dr. Kavitha’s course focused on strategic use of visual social media platforms and technologies.

Student Reactions

COIL programs are a unique experience for students like Anna Laniado, an SDSU Advertising student, who said “The COIL collaboration with the GRG School in India was a very unique experience that allowed us, JMS 462 students, to gain a global perspective in the world of advertising. It was very interesting to interact with the GRG students and see the similarities and differences in our thoughts, and I found the experience to be very gratifying hence I was able to learn from students from across the world, and share my knowledge with them as well.” 

A similar thought was shared by Monisha L S, an MBA student from PSGR Krishnammal College for Women, who said, “The SDSU program was really helpful for me to know what people think about digital marketing. The assignment was really informative. Talking with people from another country made me realize the different perspectives and that made me think a lot. They have shared so many thoughts on Coca Cola and even we shared so many thoughts of us. We helped each other learn more about marketing in different countries.”

Sharing Common Knowledge and Enriching Teaching Methodologies

In addition to the benefits for students, COIL programs are also a great way for faculty to share their common knowledge and enrich their teaching methodologies. Dr. S Kavitha, Associate Professor at GRG School of Management studies, said “it is indeed a great opportunity provided by SDSU (COIL Collaboration Programme), to handle a session to SDSU students on “Social Media Analytics – ROI and ROE” as a video lesson and also a live lecture along with the students from GRGSMS. I express my sincere gratitude to both Mr. Luis and Ms. Alexa for this opportunity. Students realized how the perceptions differ across the borders by analyzing the way Coca-Cola is using different social media channels for their marketing efforts.”

Alexa Mokalis, lecturer and Undergraduate Advising Coordinator in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at SDSU, said this COIL collaboration was “both impactful and rewarding.” Ms. Mokalis shared her experience with COIL and how it played into not only her instructional aspirations, but also the goals of her school.

“It challenged me pedagogically and widened the horizons of how I am able to teach and enhance my course,” Mokalis said. “It left me eager to dive deeper into ways I can further foster this type of meaningful, intercultural, and interdisciplinary collaboration in my curriculum.”

Now more than ever, “it’s crucial for our students to learn about the perspectives and experiences of others unlike them, in order to promote cultural empathy,” Mokalis continued. “As such, it is part of our mission in the School of Journalism & Media Studies here at SDSU to foster global, ethical, and critical media professionals. I believe this COIL Collaboration is just one example of how we continue to strive to achieve such ideals.” 

Forging Global Partnerships

This was one of hopefully many more COIL programs offered by SDSU Global Campus. If you are interested in participating in future COIL programs through Global Campus, please contact Luis Vega, Director of International Partnerships, at