Project COIL: Belgian students visited our faculty

At the beginning of March, a group of students from the Charles de Grote University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Antwerp visited our faculty and actively participated in the COIL project. These meetings represent an important step towards strengthening international cooperation and academic relations beyond the online environment that the project is designed for. See how the participants from Belgium experienced their visit to Brno.

9 Apr 2024

Students from the University of Antwerp ended their stay full of excursions, practice and lectures at the Faculty of Education of Masaryk University in Brno. The programme was carefully prepared across several departments and brought the students many interesting experiences that expanded the knowledge already gained from the COIL project. The students from our faculty visited the Belgian university last December.

At the faculty, the Vice Dean for Internationalisation and External Relations, Petra Vystrčilová, is in charge of the project and mentions that "the students' virtual cooperation is enriched by weekly visits to both universities in order to promote students' intercultural competences and to familiarize them with current trends in education at primary 1." The programme of their five-day stay was designed to provide the students with both theoretical and practical training, as well as excursions to non-faculty facilities.

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During the programme they had the opportunity to learn more about pedagogical methods and the educational system in the Czech Republic. Belgian students attended the activities together with those from our faculty who are also involved in the project. The programme for the 16 participants was conducted in English, which develops the ability to communicate in a language other than the mother tongue.

Throughout the week, they worked on the COIL project, both individually and in groups. Their main goal was to advance the project work so that they left our environment enriched with new experiences and able to reflect the knowledge gained in their outputs.

COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) is an approach to international academic collaboration that focuses on providing opportunities for virtual collaboration between universities. Our faculty has built on and deepened collaboration from the online environment through peer-to-peer meetings at participating universities.

During the project, students gain a deeper understanding of different cultures, allowing them to view situations, problems and issues from different cultural perspectives. At the same time, they develop the ability to communicate verbally in at least one foreign language and to organise foreign stays at partner institutions.

What do the involved students say?

"I really liked it! I didn't expect that – but it was even better than it could be. Thank you!"

"It's a very fun program, and I would highly recommend it. It's a great way to expand our cultural knowledge. Thank you for this opportunity."

"I really enjoyed this project! Thank you for the opportunity. Only the unclear deadlines stressed me out a little bit. I loved learning about the Czech Republic and its culture."

Directly at the faculty they were involved in several courses that brought them closer to teaching at our school. They had the opportunity to participate in first aid courses prepared by the Department of Physical Education and Health Education, music lessons from the Department of Music Education program, a Czech for Foreigners course organized by the Department of Czech Language and Literature, and gain insight into robotics with the Department of Technical and Information Education. Other activities included a walk through Brno. They also visited the Labyrinth Primary Laboratory School, where they gained valuable insights into innovative ways of teaching. On the penultimate day of their stay, they visited the Mendel Museum, where they learned not only about the life of G. J. Mendel.

In the grounds of the Kejbala Faculty Gardens they got acquainted with the architecture and functional arrangement of the garden areas. They also learned about the activities of the Department of Biology, which offers a wide range of pedagogical workshops, primarily focused on the education of children and youth. During the visit, they actively participated in field activities aimed at deepening their understanding of educational methods applied in the Czech environment. Thanks to the workshop prepared by Dr. Iva Frýzová, a number of spring decorations were created, which now enrich the premises of the faculty.

The entire stay of foreign students at our faculty not only brought new knowledge and experience to the participants, but also strengthened international relations and confirmed the students' interest in internationalization. Satisfaction with the COIL project and the exchange visits was confirmed by the students from both universities themselves, even though there are cultural differences between the two countries. For those interested in joining the project, one of the Belgian students sends a simple "Do it!" message.

Thanks to all the students, teachers and organisers involved for their efforts and enthusiasm that contributed to the success of this week of sharing, learning and inspiration.

Do you also want to get involved in projects and stays abroad during your studies? Visit the learner mobility signpost.

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