Miami offers first fully developed virtual study abroad program

By Margo Kissell, university news and communications

This winter term, Miami University is offering its first fully developed virtual study abroad program, MiamiConnects Virtual Global Learning.Find your place in the world

Watch this short video to learn more about MiamiConnects and how to register for the winter term courses.

MiamiConnects offers online workshops that let students engage with different kinds of communities. All workshops will meet Global Perspectives Miami Plan requirements, with minimal participation costs.

“Students who are seeking global understanding and cross cultural communication skills will be able to build those abilities in an immersive virtual study abroad experience that is well designed, just as well as they could in an on-site, cross border experience,” said Cheryl Young, assistant provost of Global Initiatives.

“A virtual experience can include civic engagement and engage in cross cultural, hand-on, real world learning, alongside peers from locations around the world.”

Four courses will be taught by Miami staff members Karla Guinigundo, Kevin Fitzgerald, Peter Marabei and Dave McAvoy.

“Virtual interactions with Malaysian students and faculty will enable students to actively participate in cultural exchange while learning about the country,” said Guinigundo, who has lived in Malaysia.

Students will all take McAvoy’s Becoming a Global Citizen course, which is the foundation for the program. Students then choose one of the three location courses: Malaysia, Immigration from Central America or Tech in Kenya. Each class will connect with students in those parts of the world.

McAvoy said students will gain a lot from this experience, including "connections and soft skills that are so important for career development in a digital-forward world."

Karla in Malaysia

Karla Guinigundo in front of the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (photo courtesy of Guinigundo).

For students who are interested in studying abroad in the future or whose plans for this winter have changed because of global health concerns, McAvoy said MiamiConnects offers a way for them to "dip their toes into a global experience and to see the world in a way that previously would not have been available to them."

He added, "I want students to walk away from this program with greater self-awareness about their place in the world, an appropriate level of humility when encountering those from different cultural backgrounds, and a personalized, specific plan for how to further develop and enhance their skills for careers that will become increasingly international in scope."

The courses help meet Global Initiatives’ strategic goals of connecting students to global experiences through technology, increasing global mobility for underrepresented students and developing more collaborative partnerships with universities abroad.

MiamiConnects takes Miami to another level of international engagement, Young said, adding, “I hope we can continue to build collaborations with classrooms across the world."

In his Presidential Perspective for the Association of International Education Administrators, Miami President Greg Crawford said, “Global engagement is vital for success in a global society of connection and commerce. It builds students’ character, intellect, skills, self-understanding, and capacity to serve and lead in ways that elevate the well-being of individuals and the whole society.”