Practice Reports

Implementing a cross-course design for online international exchange in geography courses




human/urban geography, pre-mobility preparation, online international exchange, experiential learning, intercultural awareness


In 2017, the University of Groningen (UG) in The Netherlands and DePaul University in the USA (DePaul) connected undergraduate students in geography courses using an Online International Exchange (OIE) assignment involving videoconferencing. Whereas many international OIE projects are designed on joint alignment principles connecting similar courses and developing similar aims and assignments, this project had a cross-course setup with diverging learning outcomes. In the UG course, OIE was a pretravel activity primarily aimed at developing disciplinary skills. DePaul implemented OIE as an intercultural awareness assignment. Through reflection on the design process and thematic analysis of student reflections, we conclude that the OIE introduced students in the DePaul course to international perceptions and encouraged self-reflection, while
the OIE stimulated disciplinary skills and introduced intercultural awareness to the UG course. Moreover, OIE stimulated cross-cultural project management skills, increasing awareness of differing educational and urban contexts and thereby training the students in global citizenship. Therefore, this cross-course OIE shows that adapting OIE design to local curricular needs using pre-existing courses can enhance and deepen disciplinary
specific learning outcomes through cross fertilization, and may create unexpected new learning outcomes. This expands the potential application and benefits of OIE for the internationalization of higher education.

Author Biographies

Leonieke Bolderman, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

Assistant Professor Cultural Geography and Tourism Geography and Planning, University of Groningen, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, Groningen, The Netherlands

Peter Groote, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

Peter Groote is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen, The Netherlands. In 1995 he defended his PhD thesis, entitled 'Capital formation in infrastructure in The Netherlands, 1800-1913.' His research focuses on cultural geography and heritage studies. His teaching philosophy revolves around experiential learning by students.

Euan Hague, DePaul University, Chicago

Euan Hague is Professor of Geography and Director of the School of Public Service at DePaul University. His work focuses on urban development, cultural geography, community activism, and nationalism. Hague has received the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities’ Scholar-Administrator Award; his most recent book is Neoliberal Chicago (University of Illinois, 2017)

Jellina Timmer, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

Jellina Timmer is an educational advisor and teacher trainer at the Educational Support and Innovation department of the University of Groningen. Her areas of expertise consist of instructional design, interactive teaching, international classroom and continuous professional development.  

Hanneke Boode, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

Hanneke Boode is a trainer intercultural competences at the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Groningen. She delivers trainings to both staff as well as students. Her areas of expertise are intercultural theory, intercultural facilitation and the international classroom. 

Sake Jager, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

Sake Jager is project manager in teaching and learning innovation and assistant professor in Applied Linguistics, University of Groningen, the Netherlands. His current interests and projects are focused on implementing Virtual Exchange across disciplines in Higher Education. 





Practice Reports