The three CEU universities in Spain are to organise IVEC 2022 in October in Valencia, which will welcome more than 300 attendees in October 2022; it is the first time that the event will take place in a non-English speaking country

“Virtual Exchange” is a style of teaching which gives students from different countries the opportunity to work together online in collaborative teams and resolve a problem, or design a project, related to a common theme in their studies. By enabling students to connect digitally with their overseas peers and participate in COIL (collaborative online international learning) projects, virtual exchange has made it possible to have an international educational experience without travelling to other countries. The CEU universities, pioneers of its use as an educational method in Spain, have been chosen to host the next International Virtual Exchange Conference, IVEC 2022.

The IVEC is the major forum for promoting new teaching methods which focus on multicultural exchange and the innovative use of technologies and is attended by university lecturers and managers from all over the world. CEU Universities have been appointed as organizers of the next conference by the IVEC’s steering committee, whose members are affiliated with founding-member institutions such as the State University of New York, DePaul University of Chicago, University of Washington Bothell, Drexel University of Philadelphia, and  East Carolina University, in the USA; the Universidad de Monterrey, in Mexico; and the Durban University of Technology, in South Africa, and also two international university organizations, namely UniCollaboration, the European telecollaboration consortium, and FAUBAI, the Brazillian Association for International Education.

Pioneers in Spain, building bridges with Latin America

The IVEC 2022 will take place at the CEU Cardenal Herrera University (CEU UCH) in Valencia between 26th and 28th October. For the Vice Rector for Internationalization at CEU UCH, Alfonso Díaz, it is significant that this is the first time that this event will have taken place in a non-English speaking country: “We’ve been chosen as the next hosts of the IVEC in recognition of the role that we have played in pioneering the use of COIL projects in Spain, while also building bridges for the participation of Latin American universities in these activities”.

International students comprise one third of the student community at CEU UCH, already making for a multicultural environment in our classrooms, but the Vice Rector and his staff wanted to take internationalization a step further by virtual exchange as an educational method which is both innovative and outward-looking. “We started with six COIL projects in the 2019-20 academic year, and these multiplied by six the following year. This year there are already twenty projects registered and all our degree programmes now give students the chance to participate in some form of virtual exchange project while they are studying here,” he said.

For Vice-Rector Diaz, an associate member of the Internationalization at Home Expert Community at the European Association for International Education (EAIE), virtual exchange formats like COIL “are an opportunity to connect and build bridges through technology between students all over the world. Collaborative activities in which the students can apply their learning to real cases and challenges gives them the opportunity to acquire important skills and think in an international context, which will be essential for their future careers. We are proud to be pioneers of these methods in Spain, which began a few years ago in New York but which are already used in Latin America, Asia, and central Europe. IVEC 2022 at our university will be a unique opportunity for universities from different countries and continents to share their experiences.”

More than 700 participants from all over the world

The IVEC 2022 conference in October is likely to bring together more than 700 participants from universities all over the world using a hybrid format, allowing attendees to choose between connecting to the sessions live online or attending them in person on CEU UCH’s Valencia campus. The attendees will include lecturers, academics, and university managers interested in promoting new technological teaching formats which enable cross-cultural exchange. Students will also be present to share their experiences of participating in this kind of innovative and international learning experience.

The application period for presentations concerning virtual exchange is now open (January 2022). Presentations selected for participation in IVEC 2022 by the organizing committee will be published as articles in a special edition of the Journal of Virtual Exchange, as well as forming part of the conference proceedings. The aim of all this is to spread awareness of the positive impact which this international, online teaching style is having on higher education. 

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