While many students are returning to campuses and will resume traveling for their international exchanges this academic year, the Virtual Exchange Program remains an attractive and relevant learning experience. It promotes inclusiveness and decreases the barriers for students to strengthen their intercultural skills and grow their international network. In this article, you will learn more about the importance of internationalization, the third edition of the Virtual Exchange Program, how to join the program, and more.
Due to lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, most of the students have been unable to go abroad and gain valuable international experience. As with much of learning in general, intercultural learning had to take place digitally. While this has initially presented some challenges, it has also created room for exciting new opportunities and projects.
Inspired by the possibilities provided by new technologies in connectivity and education, Inchainge and Windesheim University of Applied Sciences teamed to offer a solution. The Virtual Exchange Program was launched to bring students from across the world together in an immersive digital environment, allowing them to connect with each other and develop their international network.
After a successful pilot edition, the second edition of the Virtual Exchange Program launched as a 3 ECTS course. It focused on developing participants in three areas: their understanding of the circular economy, their intercultural skills, and growing their international network.
Today’s world is tremendously interconnected – it is possible to get in touch with somebody on the other end of the world with just a click of a few buttons. As business is done across borders and cultures, many professionals find themselves working within international teams, either on-site or virtually. Highly developed intercultural skills are important for understanding global issues, meaningfully engaging with colleagues from different backgrounds, and resolving potential conflicts.
One of the most important predictors for becoming interculturally competent is having many international peers in the network. The goal of the Virtual Exchange Program is to enable students to build their international network before starting their careers, regardless of travel restrictions or financial resources to travel. During the program students learn together and from each other, helping them to build a meaningful and long-lasting bond.
Current linear business models are undisputedly unsustainable in terms of the number of required resources and the amount of waste that they result in it. There is a clear need to transition towards circular business models. It is crucial that the new generation of young professionals, who will be the leaders in the near future, understand how to facilitate this transition. Such a transition requires cooperation on the global scale, making circular economy the perfect topic to include in the Virtual Exchange Program.
The next edition of the Virtual Exchange Program will launch in November 2021.
The upcoming edition will be an 8-week program accredited as a 5-ECTS course, as previously focusing on circular economy, intercultural development, and networking. This semester, the focus of the networking component will be on developing networking and career skills.
As Covid-19 related restrictions are generally being lifted across the world and we expect many students to return to a physical classroom, we aim to make the program more flexible and allow some parts to be done asynchronously and/or to allow students to join the live sessions via mobile devices when necessary. For that reason, we will opt in to use a browser-based conferencing platform.
The course incorporates circular business game, The Blue Connection, and the e-book Mastering the Circular Economy by Ed Weenk and Rozanne Henzen. This combination offers theory in a practical context with the use of experiential learning.
Furthermore, while the original goal of the program was to facilitate internationalization at home when traveling was not possible, the aim now is to make the international exchange more accessible and inclusive, allowing students who, for various reasons, cannot travel to a different country for an exchange.
To promote inclusiveness, there will be a number of merit-based sponsorship awards sponsored by Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, to cover the costs of learning materials awarded to students from nominated partner universities in economically developing countries. More information about this will come soon.
Are you an educator or work for a university international office? Registrations for universities are now open! Register now and allow your students to participate in the next edition!
If you are interested in learning more about the Virtual Exchange Program, join our FREE webinar ” Internationalization for a Circular Future”. Register now by following this link: https://bit.ly/2YKhloV
During this 1-hour webinar, you’ll have the opportunity to: