The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered the doors on most of our brick-and-mortar institutions, leading many universities to move many of their activities (international and otherwise) online. But shifting from the physical to the digital isn’t as simple as it sounds. Those considering implementing virtual mobility programmes will want to watch out for these seven potential pitfalls on the path to virtual mobility. 

In recent years, virtual mobility has emerged as an innovative way of connecting students in a multicultural, international learning environment without anyone having to go abroad. The primary benefit of virtual mobility is that because of its low cost compared with physical mobility, it is accessible to many more students. It also provides a classroom experience that sets students up for a jobs market in which companies are increasingly working in more global and virtual collaborative settings.

For these reasons, virtual mobility has the potential to be an important aspect of the internationalisation strategies of higher education institutions. As with all new ideas, however, the road from theory to implementation is full of pitfalls.

In this article, I would like to offer some insight into how to overcome the challenges of establishing virtual mobility, based on my experience as Coordinator of WILLIAM, an Erasmus+ capacity building project, currently in its second year, that focuses on Internationalisation at Home.

Each of the partner institutions is working on implementing virtual mobility across a range of disciplines. For almost all of the partners, virtual mobility is a new tool to incorporate within the work of the international office. Hence, how to create the infrastructure, get faculty involved, provide incentives and choose the right course and lecturer are all questions that have floated around in our discussions.

Based on our experience, the following are some tips that may be useful if you are just beginning to think of how to engage with virtual mobility on an institutional level and introduce it within your courses.

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By Dr. Yael Israel-Cohen