A core pillar of UNIC is fostering teaching collaboration and virtual exchange across UNIC partner institutions. UNIC provides educators with the necessary tools and opportunities to promote diverse forms of virtual exchange.
We caught up with Assistant Professor Işıl Aral of the School of Law at Koç University to talk about her experiences establishing virtual exchange in the Human Rights Law course she teaches at KU. Işıl and Associate Prof. Christophe Deprez of the University of Liege worked together to implement a form of virtual exchange within their common class. Işıl explained that she wanted to pursue this co-teaching experience as she believes it provides lecturers with opportunity to learn from each other in terms of course design as well as giving them a chance to exchange ideas about different ways to teach similar topics.
After comparing syllabi, Işıl and Christophe organized to bring their students together virtually twice during the Spring semester 2022. She explained that they divided students into mixed groups and asked them to prepare a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights. Each student in the group had to prepare a different part of the judgment. The two classrooms then came together for students to present their parts and engage in a group discussion where they exchanged ideas based on previously shared questions. This joint exercise allowed the students to focus on a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, present it to the group and then discuss with their peers. The process was not without its challenges though, as Işıl explains, “The biggest challenge was the size of the classes. I had 20 students in my class, but the other class had 112 students. Making sure that each group has students from both Koç and Liege was a serious issue.”
For students, bringing the two classes together presented them with an opportunity to engage with their peers in a different university. Işıl comments, “They all said that they very much enjoyed meeting with students from another university who were taking the same course.” The co-teaching component also provided students with a chance to hone their skills, “I believe that it was very beneficial for students to make a presentation to people they had just met, listen to them and then have a discussion about a court judgment…. they made a serious preparation for their presentation and also prepared well for the discussion part of the meeting.” Engagement between the two cohorts extended beyond developing their skills as Işıl says, “In the discussion part, they had to share with the group whether they agree or disagree with the court judgment. I had several students who told me that after listening to their friends, they changed their opinions about the judgment and that it was very helpful to see different points of view to improve their way of thinking.”
UNIC seeks to bring together instructors and students in different disciplines to engage on topics of common interest. It provides support to instructors to facilitate different forms of virtual exchange and collaboration.
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