Third Space Lab Presents: Developing authentic international learning experiences through Virtual Exchange

This event features Robert O’Dowd from the University of León, Spain, on Developing authentic international learning experiences through Virtual Exchange.

The recording for this talk is now available: Robert O’Dowd: Developing authentic international learning experiences through Virtual Exchange

Date/Time: Nov 11, 12pm Barcelona time/7pm BJT
Location: Zoom ID 248 487 9248;

Please RSVP by Thursday, Nov 10th:

In universities around the world, more and more teachers are engaging their students in intercultural collaborative projects with partners from other countries using digital technologies. This is commonly known as Virtual Exchange (VE) or Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) or telecollaboration. VE has great potential to foster a range of 21st century employability skills which include media and digital literacy, communication skills, global awareness, empathy, critical and analytical thinking, foreign language skills and intercultural competences.

There is no suggestion that VE should ever replace physical mobility programmes. But many institutions are now considering how to use VE to prepare students for physical mobility or how it can function as an alternative to physical mobility for those students who are not able to travel abroad for medical, financial or personal reasons. This will help universities become more inclusive and ensure that students who cannot take part in physical mobility can still develop those skills usually associated with international experiences. VE can also be used to complement physical mobility programmes through blended mobility formats which combine stages of study abroad with stages of online collaboration between students.

This presentation will take examples from previous exchanges in order to propose some critical success factors which teachers should keep in mind when considering how to introduce Virtual Exchange in their foreign language programmes.

To contact Robert O’Dowd:


Robert O’Dowd

Dr. Robert O’Dowd comes from Ireland and is Associate Professor for English as a Foreign Language and Applied Linguistics at the University of León, Spain. He has taught at universities in Ireland, Germany and Spain and has numerous publications on the application of Virtual Exchange in university education. He was the founding president of the UNICollaboration academic organization for telecollaboration and virtual exchange ( and has been invited to be plenary speaker at international conferences in the US, Asia and across Europe.

He is currently coordinating the Erasmus+ European Policy Experiment Virtual Innovation and Support Networks for Teachers (VALIANT) (2021-2024). Robert’s publications are available here: and you can follow him on twitter @robodowd.