DEVELOPING GLOBAL EMPLOYABILITY SKILLS VIA STUDENTS' COLLABORATIVE ONLINE INTERNATIONAL LEARNING (COIL) ACTIVITIES – A CASE STUDY OF FINLAND AND UK COLLABORATION TO SHARE BEST PRACTICE
1 University of Vaasa (FINLAND)
2 Coventry University (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Conference name: 15th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2023
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:In the last few years, many changes have occurred in global educational trends and the world we live in. This has impacted students’ lives and in particular the career market or workplace because of the COVID-19 pandemic. University graduates today need to be flexible in their approach to student life and the challenges of future employment. It is important to recognise the changing landscape in educational practice in order to facilitate students' international experiences in Higher Education contexts. The aim of this paper is to share the best practice on an innovative and sustainable approach to teaching and learning via student collaboration using Finland and England as an example in line with developing quality education, which is one of the UN sustainability goals (https://sdgs.un.org/goals).
This Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) project aims to create an experiential learning (Kolbs 1984) opportunity for student engagement, through an online professional cross-cultural setting. This is done to enhance students’ awareness of the importance of employability through being more internationally and culturally aware of the global connectedness for 21st century careers (Appiah-Kubi and Annan 2020). In this presentation, we will present the rationale of the project, in which students were able to engage, network and communicate with others to discuss various topics related to key employability skills, taking into account differing culture, time zones and learning styles. This study consisted of 94 undergraduate students from two universities, one located in the UK and one in Finland. Questionnaires were sent out to the students, 94 responses were collected (response rate was 100%). Qualitative data was collected in the form of students’ reflective journals to triangulate our quantitative findings and to give a deeper insight into the students’ learning experience. The results show that key areas of development were intercultural learning, digital competency, and confidence to communicate or work in a diverse cultural setting for future working life. It is hoped that the findings of this study can provide some insights into students’ learning experience in order for teachers to embed employability skills into teaching and curriculum design at Higher Education level (Yorke and Knight 2006) with a focus on the digital capabilities of navigating internationally in a virtual environment (Balyk et al 2020).
 Appiah-Kubi, P. and Annan, E. (2020). A review of a collaborative online international learning. International Journal of Engineering Pedagogy, 10(1).
 Balyk, N., Shmyger, G., Vasylenko, Y., Oleksiuk, V. and Barna, O. (2020), November. The digital capabilities model of university teachers in the educational activities context. CEUR Workshop Proceedings
 Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
 United Nation Sustainability Development Goals (2023) https://sdgs.un.org/goals
 Yorke, M. and Knight, P.T (2006). Embedding employability into the curriculum (Vol. 3). York: Higher Education Academy.
Keywords: COIL, employability, educational trends, Virtual Collaboration, internationalization, cross-cultural, experiential learning, distance learning.