Drivers of Global Learning Experiences
Oklahoma State University is using cutting-edge, interactive technology to increase accessibility to study abroad.
Director of the Center for Global Learning, Jeff Simpson, used the pandemic to explore innovative ways to provide students with high-impact global learning experiences. Expanding beyond online pre-departure orientations, OSU turned to the Study Abroad Association (SAA), a partner study abroad provider, to create custom virtual learning content to immerse students in a location prior to studying abroad. The interactive content on SAA’s 360 GLE™ platform allows students to explore host locations in greater depth prior to departure.
Many OSU students are first-generation college students. This virtual content had the added benefit of involving families in learning what the study abroad experience would be like and opening pathways to family conversations about the value of the study abroad experience.
While OSU had been working with interactive content since 2019, wider applications of the tool became apparent with the travel restrictions put in place during 2020 due to COVID-19. What started out as content for a single OSU course became a more widely used curriculum strategy to allow students to have a global learning experience without leaving home. As study abroad programs transition back to in-person participation, OSU discovered that incorporating pre-departure virtual learning modules as part of required, credit-bearing study abroad coursework provided a critical learning tool to prepare students for their first experience abroad. While on the program, students expressed excitement at seeing locations in person that they had previously explored virtually. Students also reflected on the virtual content in their journals. According to Simpson, “What I thought would be a neat add-on proved to be a key curriculum tool for student learning.”
OSU recognizes that experience abroad is a key part of its students’ future success. We see the university’s expanding implementation of innovative virtual learning tools, like SAA’s 360 GLE platform, as a unique and inclusive solution to bring global experiences and greater cultural understanding to a new generation of students.