Examination of an Innovative Solution for Internationalizing
the Curriculum Through Online Study Abroad
Published online: 3 May 2017
Association for Educational Communications & Technology 2017
Abstract As we move further into the twenty-first century,
businesses continue to seek employees with global experience
and intercultural competence, but the reality is that many stu-
dents are unable to gain this experience through study abroad
programs for a variety of reasons. The purpose of this study
was to determine if there is value in using web conferencing
technology to provide students with access to international
learning activities or ways to internationalize the curriculum
for students who are unable to travel abroad. This formative
case evaluation is the first in a series of iterative studies aimed
at developing a viable, sustainable, technology-based solution
through design-based research. The Online Learning
Practitioner Notes What is already known about this topic:
• According to the Institute of International Education (2016), less
than 10% of undergraduate students participate in a study abroad
program prior to graduation. The reasons cited included the cost,
curriculum did not include it, and cultural barriers (Berdan and
• Employers value international experience when making hiring decisions
• In response to workforce demands, many institutions of higher
education are making efforts to internationalize the curriculum (Leask
2004; Nilsson 2003; Soria and Troisi 2013).
• Global and intercultural competencies are life skills that include
knowledge of and sensitivity toward the world and its unique cultural
backgrounds (Hunter et al. 2006; Deardorff 2006).
• There continues to be a need for exploration of alternative solutions for
What this paper adds:
• The study sets up a design-based process to develop a model that may
provide students access to live study abroad activities in the field with-
out requiring travel.
• The paper evaluates a unique interactive design for delivering
instruction via web conference technology that has possible benefits
as an alternative to study abroad constraints.
• Qualitative results reveal high levels of student and instructor
satisfaction with the web conferencing-based model along with indica-
tions of learning effectiveness for online participants.
Impact and implications for practice:
• This paper describes an effective alternative that could be implemented
by institutions of higher learning as a sustainable solution for
internationalizing the curriculum.
• Through this model, communication, web conferencing, and other
technologies provide the capacity to create interactive international
experiences at a much more economical value.
• The results of this case study indicate that while the immersive
experience of traditional study abroad programs cannot be replicated,
there is value in providing international activities using web
conferencing technology, which also has its own set of benefits for
students unable to travel.
• The findings also include a list of recommendations for improvement
that may be implemented and re-evaluated in a series of iterative design-
based studies aimed at improving and refining the model.
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article
(doi:10.1007/s41686-017-0002-4) contains supplementary material,
which is available to authorized users.
* Wendy Howard
University of Central Florida, John C. Hitt Library, 12701 Pegasus
Drive, Orlando, FL 32816, USA
University of Central Florida, 12494 University Blvd.,
Orlando, FL 32816, USA
J Form Des Learn (2017) 1:3–15