Research Articles

Virtual exchange for graduate and adult learners: A literature review




virtual exchange, graduate education, postgraduate education, adult learner, experiential learning


Little is known about characteristics and learning outcomes of virtual exchanges (VEs) designed for graduate and adult learners. VEs can offer novel experiences that disrupt, test, and refine learner understanding and practice of their profession (Kolb & Kolb, 2017). In contrast to younger students, adults typically hold more established understandings of their world and self, have focused learning goals, and often juggle multiple responsibilities that limit in-person international learning (e.g., Bergman, 2021; Jarvis, 2010; Merriam et al., 2007). Systematic literature procedures were used to examine four questions: What are the characteristics of VEs designed for graduate students? What are the learning goals, structures, and activities? What student outcomes are reported? And what insights about adult learner experiences in VE are identified? The review suggests there is a strong emphasis on professional preparation in graduate-level VE with particular attention to culture and collaboration. Limited information about students as adult learners was examined (e.g., their perspectives, preferences, and challenges). This article points to the need for more research, models, and instructional and curricular supports to realize the potential of VE for graduate and adult learners.

Author Biography

Catherine Dunn Shiffman, Shenandoah University

Dr. Catherine Dunn Shiffman is Professor of Leadership Studies at Shenandoah University in the United States. She coordinates the university’s Doctor of Education (EdD) in Educational Leadership program. Her research focuses on adult learning, international education, virtual exchange, family-school-community relations, change and improvement in education, and educational leadership preparation.





Research Articles