BeCOIL Initiative at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

COIL stands for Collaborative Online International Learning and is an approach in which students from different countries and cultures work together in groups on a common task.

The joint COIL initiative of nine Berlin Institutions of Higher Education aims to promote the internationalization of the curriculum and to make global competencies accessible to all students and lecturers through collaborative projects. It enables the acquisition of intercultural competencies without having to leave Berlin.

Instructors in Berlin and international partners will develop joint teaching units, creating a collaboration between two (cross-disciplinary) courses with each university. The focus of the joint teaching units is on working together in international student teams utilizing digital tools.

COIL improves intercultural competencies

By working together in mixed teams, the COIL process enables students to gain a deeper understanding of themselves, their own culture, how they are perceived by others, and how they perceive others. This leads to multiple perspectives and strengthens students' intercultural competence. COIL expands the thinking of students and faculty.

Competencies taught through COIL and institutional goals that can be achieved:

COIL gives all students access to international experience

The COIL initiative is an approach to make international experience more accessible to all students, while enabling them to acquire digital and language skills. Working in virtual, international and interdisciplinary teams is becoming increasingly important to succeed in today's globalized business world. COIL prepares students for this by teaching these very skills.

Students who are unable to participate in traditional exchange programs for personal or economic reasons have the opportunity to gain intercultural experience through COIL. These experiences help to increase familiarity with digital tools and employability. Virtual exchanges can also encourage expansive thinking about careers, physical mobility and a semester abroad by fostering a sense of curiosity and creating awareness of other cultures.

COIL courses are flexible in design and easy to implement

COIL courses remain the responsibility of the respective university and can therefore be implemented easily and unbureaucratically. Depending on the content of the course and the experience of the instructors and students, the scope of cooperation can range from a single session to an entire semester with a joint final project and classroom sessions. The core element of the concept is the collaboration in internationally mixed groups of students.

Illustration of the typical structure of a COIL course:

Illustration of the typical structure of a COIL course

COIL projects are supported by the KSBF and the Faculty of Theology

The promotion of COIL events is a joint initiative of KSBF(Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences: Department of Archaeology, Department for Asian and African Studies, Department of Educational Sciences, Department of Cultural History and Theory, Department of Art and Visual History, Department of Musicology and Media Studies, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Department of Social Sciences, Department of Sport Sciences, Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies), the Faculty of Theology and the International Office. Its intention is to complement traditional forms of physical mobility and to enrich international education through the intentional design of intercultural learning. Support is provided for the conception and (additional) administration.

Project Sponsor & Duration

State of Berlin (QIO - Berlin Quality and Innovation Offensive), July 2022 to December 2024

Moodle Course

COIL information, handouts, checklists, exchange of experiences (so far only in German - translation to follow)


This 90-minute online course provides an introduction to the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) approach and outlines how you can incorporate digital and international elements into your teaching.
BeCOIL and the Berlin Centre for Higher Education (BZHL) will jointly organise the event.
Online-event, Monday, January 29. 2024, 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm