An Education Abroad Professional’s Guide to Online Global Learning Experiences | ISBN: 978-1-952376-06-1

Download Your Copy


If you are not redirected, go to the Member portal, click on “My Profile,” and scroll down to “Online Store.” Guidelines are free for Forum members and available for purchase to non-members


Online global learning experiences can result in deep intercultural exchange and achieve many of the same goals that are set for education abroad. They can also complement or provide a pathway to future international mobility for students who participate. As with education abroad opportunities, education abroad professionals can be a driving force in the development and implementation of online global learning experiences by helping to seek out opportunities, build partnerships, advise students of their options, and help instructors to identify learning goals for international experiences that extend beyond specific academic disciplines.

With that in mind, we’ve prepared this guide for education abroad professionals who are new to online global learning experiences and want to learn more about how to do them well. While this guide is mainly about the diverse practices that full under the header ‘virtual exchange,’ we are intentionally choosing to use the term Online Global Learning Experiences because many of the principles and recommendations are just as applicable to other forms of online international learning programs and experiences. This guide is intended as an introduction to a broad range of curricular or co-curricular global learning experiences that happen partially or completely online, including: collaborative project-based learning, one-on-one or small-group language learning practice, videoconference dialogues, courses paired across institutions who work together, remote internships or group consulting projects for companies located abroad, or community engagement or service-learning projects conducted online in collaboration with a community partner overseas, and more.

The key components of high-quality online global learning experiences are:

  • Personal, authentic, engaging
  • Intensive and/or sustained
  • Collaborative
  • Intercultural (international)
  • Intentional and supported
  • Mediated by technology

In this guide, we help orient education abroad professionals accustomed to organizing and/or vetting primarily in-person international programming to the unique considerations they must take into account while transitioning existing programming online, developing new online global learning opportunities, and / or evaluating third-party online offerings on behalf of their students. The Member Resources section on this page includes a variety of resources sourced from other institutions and organizations with expertise in virtual exchanges and online learning in higher education to support you in your work.

5 Questions to Ask Before Saying Yes to an Online Global Learning Experience

While online global learning experiences have unique considerations, many of the facets of supporting participants’ personal, social, intercultural, academic, and career development are similar to what we’re accustomed to in the field of education abroad. Your experience and expertise apply here, too! With that in mind, remember that the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad should always be a primary reference and guide. The guidance that follows is organized to follow the format of the 6th edition of the Standards of Good Practice and allow for easy use of these resources in tandem.

For additional guidance for specific program types, we also encourage you to consult:



The Forum thanks the following individuals for their contribution to the preparation of this Guide:

  • Mohamed Abdel-Kader, Kyle Kastler, Andie Shafer, Henry Shepherd, Christine Shiau, Stevens Initiative
  • Kris Acheson-Clair, Purdue University
  • Bibi Al-Ebrahim, Amizade
  • Lori Citti, Johns Hopkins University
  • Mary Lou Forward, SUNY Center for Collaborative Online International Learning
  • Eric Hartman, Haverford College
  • Hilary Kahn, IUPUI & Indiana University
  • Jillian Low, CRCC Asia & Virtual Internships
  • Raluca Nahorniac, University of Maryland
  • Linda Rust, RMIT University
  • Carine Ullom, Ottawa University & UNICollaboration
  • Jennifer Wiley, CoreCollaborative International & James Madison University

You might also be interested in these free video resources:

  • Responding to COVID-19 webinar on Virtual Exchanges and Summer 2020. Watch the recording. View the slides.
  • Virtual Exchange and Education Abroad: Synergies for Sustainability. A session presented by Kris Acheson-Clair, Carine Ullom, and Jennifer Wiley at our 16th Annual Conference, held virtuall April 21-23, 2020. Watch the recording.
    • This session was provided free of charge by Drs. Acheson-Clair, Ullom and Wiley, whose copyrighted content has been granted distribution by the The Forum on Education Abroad for limited educational, not-for-profit use. If you would like to request permission of the authors to re-purpose this content please contact, Dr. Jennifer Wiley at
You must be logged in to view the links in the Member Resources section. If you do not have log-in credentials, request them here. If you are not a Forum member, click here to learn more about joining The Forum.


Member Resources

There are 48 items in the toolbox. Please log-in or join The Forum to access these essential resources.