Global Virtual Internships - Allison Selby, Distance Teaching & Learning conference, University of Wisconsin-Madison


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The Global Virtual Internships (GVI) is a virtual internship program where students work directly with global NGOs. Students gain international experience without the hefty costs of temporary relocation related to study abroad programs. For non-traditional students and those with financial restraints, GVI offers the experience of being part of the global professional community. The GVI experience also offers the opportunity to give back to the global community while gaining specialized experience and school credit.

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Global Virtual Internships - Allison Selby, Distance Teaching & Learning conference, University of Wisconsin-Madison

  1. 1. GLOBAL VIRTUAL INTERNSHIPS Technology Integration for International Collaboration Allison P. Selby, MS Asheville, North Carolina Dawn Giannoni, Ph.D Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  2. 2. INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS  Developed partnership with Peace Corps volunteer for student interns to work with a non-governmental organization (NGO) in the Republic of Moldova…virtually.  The NGO group, Pro-Business Nord (PBN), is based in the Republic of Moldova, their mission is to “encourage the growth and development of the private and non-governmental sectors in Moldova by offering training, consulting, support services, and social programs in accordance with international best practices and that were customized to local needs,” (“Our Mission,” n.d.).  PBN provides professional training in business, economics, management, marketing, and accounting.
  3. 3. BACKGROUND  Virtual internships evolving in higher education.  Internship program developed at School of Information Technology, Kaplan University. Program is open to all Information Technology concentrations.  Program requires a ten hour per week commitment and is designed to accommodate either local or virtual site placement.  Site placements have ranged from small web design agencies, large medical institutions, and traditional universities.  The placements have largely been based within the United States, with one exception of an internationally-based placement.
  4. 4. INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS: TOOLS AND METHODS  Synchronous activities: Weekly meetings were held via instant messengers, VOIP, and online conferencing tools.  Asynchronous communications: Facilitated through email, discussion boards, and the faculty feedback on the weekly projects.  Reflection: Weekly journals and status updates.  File Exchange: Cloud-based dropboxes and server space.  Bootable CDs: Live penetration testing for security forensics. IP Ping and Traceroute, network and port scan. (  Camtasia: Video recordings for student presentations and archive.
  5. 5. PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER, JULIE FRIESWYK “Both the NGO members and the students came to their own moments of realization of what they were truly learning/gaining from the exchange. From the point of view of the students, I could see an opening of understanding of how people operate in different cultures. From the point of view of the NGO, they were amazed how these young people were able to transfer skills like working with WordPress and SEO, from across the world.” “Working with students from the U.S. gave the NGO the opportunity to better understand the education systems abroad. I could see how they thought the idea of working for an international NGO as a part of school curriculum was such a new idea and they loved to be a part of something innovative.” “It was eye-opening at how beneficial such exchange was for global understanding, skills transfer, and confidence building for both parties.“ (J. Frieswyk, personal communication, May 4, 2013)
  6. 6. STUDENT REFLECTIONS “This was an incredible learning experience as I had been involved with local clients in the past, but never international. I believe the entire experience brought an enrichment to the program that could not have been gained by doing a local externship.” “This process certainly helped in the process of web development for clients, both International and local. “This project helped me to understand this better and get a grasp more on what customers are looking for regardless of their location.” “I do not think this experience could be replaced by that of a classroom experience. Anytime there is the opportunity to combine real world experience with the learning of a classroom environment it will certainly enhance the learning much more.” (Student A, personal communication, May 3, 2013)
  7. 7. STUDENT REFLECTIONS “ The beginning of the project started off meeting with PBN representatives and choosing the overall theme and feel for the new website.” “ We reviewed goals for the update, as well as worked together regarding risks, and suggestions.” “ I got to experience for the first time how to navigate through a WordPress website. Through the process of selecting a WordPress theme, I needed to learn how to customize coding within the preset theme to troubleshoot client requests and needs. “Most importantly, I experienced real world project management.” (Student B, personal communication, May 3, 2013)
  9. 9. FINAL OUTCOMES  Site completed to promote local training courses.  Site completed to promote NGO consulting services.  Security forensics only partially completed.  NGO staff trained on editing and updating site.  Students created training videos to demonstrate how to edit and update site in Wordpress.  Students made final live presentations via Connect rooms to demonstrate final site designs. PBN WordpressTutorial
  10. 10. EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING AND ONLINE ENGAGEMENT  “Experiential education is a philosophy that informs many methodologies in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop people's capacity to contribute to their communities,” (What is Experiential Education?, n.d.)  High impact practices require great time and effort for ‘purposeful tasks’, interactions with faculty ‘about substantive matters,’ and to “challenge students to develop new ways of thinking about and responding immediately to novel circumstances as they work… on intellectual and practical tasks, inside and outside the classroom, and on and off campus.” (O'Neill, 2010, p. 5)  The internship program is structured to maximize student engagement as a high impact experiential learning practice (Kuh, 2008).  Framework of reflection and feedback for students to gain opportunities in forming critical thinking exercises and towards knowledge construction. (Smith, 2008)
  11. 11. VIRTUAL EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION Virtual experiential education solutions can accommodate:  Active and veteran military students.  Non-traditional students, particularly older 35+.  According to the Census Bureau statistics, the 2009 post-secondary enrollment figures for males aged thirty-five and over were 1,069,000. The post-secondary enrollment figures for females aged thirty-five and over were 2,124,000. (Education: Higher Education: Institutions and Enrollment, 2012)  This results in 3,193,000 adults of the age 35 and over attending post-secondary institutions.  2009 figures state 7,704,000 students are attending post-secondary institutions on a part-time basis. (Education: Higher Education: Institutions and Enrollment, 2012)  Many of these adult students have families and per the Census statistics, an overwhelming amount of students are women.
  12. 12. VIRTUAL EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION  This is not a replacement for campus-based activities.  This is an alternate set of solutions to expand experiential learning activities to a greater number of students.  These can also be integrated into existing campus-based or study abroad programs to increase intercultural awareness, decrease culture shock, establish trust, and reduce potential student harm.  Virtual connections may also be very cost effective.
  13. 13. VIRTUAL FOREIGN SERVICE  The Virtual Student Foreign Service is part of a growing effort by the U.S. State Department to harness technology and a commitment to global service among young people to facilitate new forms of diplomatic engagement.  Working from college and university campuses in the United States and throughout the world, eInterns (American students working virtually) are partnered with our U.S. diplomatic posts overseas and State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) domestic offices to conduct digital diplomacy that reflects the realities of our networked world. (Virtual Student Foreign Service, 2013)
  14. 14. CURRENT VIRTUAL INTERNSHIP PROGRAMS  San Jose State University, School and Library and Information Sciences, initiated a partnership with National Library of New Zealand (Franks & Gillian, 2011).  Columbia University has also enacted a virtual internship program with opportunities including social media, microfinance, international development and globalization. (Virtual Internship Program, 2013)  The EU-VIP project was funded by the European Commission within the Lifelong Learning Programme. This program focuses on international work placements through the implementation of virtual mobility. (Vriens & Van Petegem, 2011)
  15. 15. QUESTIONS? Thank you for attending!
  16. 16. REFERENCES Education: Higher Education: Institutions and Enrollment. (2012, September). Retrieved from United States Census Bureau: Franks, P. C., & Gillian, O. C. (2011). Virtual internships: Opportunities for experiential learning and international collaboration in digital curation curricula. World Library and Information Congress : 77th IFLA General Conference and Assembly , (pp. 1-11). San Juan.. Kuh, G. D. (2008, March 23). High-Impact educational practices: A brief overview. Retrieved from Association of American Colleges and Universities: "Our Mission." (n.d.). PBN: Our Mission. Retrieved 1 2013, July, from Pro Business Nord: O'Neill, N. (2010). Internships as a high-impact practice. Peer Review, 1-8. Smith, M. C. (2008). Does service learning promote adult development? Theoretical perspectives and directions for research. New Directons for Adult and Continuing Education, 5-15. Virtual Internship Program. (2013). Retrieved from Columbia University Center for Career Education: Virtual Student Foreign Service. (2013). Retrieved from U.S. Department of State: Vriens, M., & Van Petegem, W. (2011). Make it work! Integrating virtual mobility in international work placements. Retrieved from EU-VIP: What is Experiential Education? (n.d.). Retrieved from Association for Experiential Education:
  17. 17. CONTACT INFORMATION Allison Selby School of Information Technology Asheville, NC Phone: 828-318-5082 Email: Or Dawn Giannoni School of Information Technology Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33313 Phone: 954-616-5220 Email: Or