Universitat de Valencia (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2020 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 4144-4151
ISBN: 978-84-09-17939-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2020.1148
Conference name: 14th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2020
Location: Valencia, Spain
Higher education (HE) faces increasingly high requirements and challenges in today’s global world. The process of globalization has brought positive trends into higher education, like provision of joint study programs and education regardless of national borders, including internationalization. HE internationalization encompasses a highly diverse range of initiatives, undertaken in order to help adapt to an increasingly globalized world. One of the strategies that can enhance such initiatives is mobility, that is considered an important part of higher education as it supports personal development and employability and increases cooperation and competition between HE institutions. Student mobility is the form of HE internationalization, which has emerged as a response to globalization. The recent technology development has introduced the concept of virtual mobility that has a great potential to contribute to the internationalization, innovation and inclusion in higher education, enabling international cooperation opportunities through the use of information and communication technologies.

In this paper, firstly, after offering an overview of the literature on globalization, we examine the concept of internationalization and present its importance in higher education. Internationalization is defined as the variety of policies and programs that universities and governments implement to respond to globalization. These typically include sending students to study abroad, setting up a branch campus overseas, or engaging in some type of inter-institutional partnership.

Secondly, we analyze the Virtual Mobility concept from different perspectives:
a) from the mobility perspective, where virtual mobility is a movement from one place to another in a virtual space; and
b) from the educational perspective, where it is defined as a form of learning, communication and exchange of knowledge.

Thirdly, different virtual mobility characteristics are described, such as: exchange of knowledge and development of intercultural competence; cooperation of higher education institutions; application of appropriate technological solutions for teaching and learning, communication and collaboration; aimed at achieving academic goals and international recognition and accreditation of study achievements.

Next, different types of the activities are discussed. Virtual mobility activities have been classified based on different categorizations, for example, the degree of virtualization (fully virtual, partially, and blended), learning methods (teacher-centered, student-centered), circumstances the virtual mobility takes places in (virtual mobility for student exchange, for student placement, for study programs).

Also, we examine main benefits and barriers of virtual mobility compared to other forms of teaching and learning. For example, virtual mobility has the potential to be a relevant option for internationalization at home for students who cannot travel abroad for reasons such as financial barriers or family issues. Meanwhile, barriers of virtual mobility development can be grouped into three main categories: barriers and problems for teachers, for students and for institution.

Finally, we analyze the effective strategies in facilitating virtual mobility organized in four themes: promoting university websites, promoting social networks, improving virtual infrastructure, and strengthening virtual branding.
Virtual mobility, Higher Education (HE), internationalization.