Morgado and Popa meet at Zanesville Campus

Elvira Morgado and Gabriela Popa work together at the Zanesville Campus.

Photo courtesy of: Ohio University Zanesville

Willan presents certificate to Morgado

Bill Willan, Executive Dean for Regional Campuses, presents a certificate of appreciation to Elvira Morgado.

Photographer: Christine Shaw

COIL faculty work with student

From left, Gabriela Popa and Elvira Morgado talk with a student about her Student Expo project.

Photo courtesy of: Ohio University Zanesville

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Popa and Morgado work with studentsElvira Morgado, l, of the Universidad Veracruzana, Mexico and Gabriela Popa, COIL Fellow, r, work with Zanesville students

Science classes from Zanesville and Mexico share experiences


Ohio University's regional campuses embraced the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) initiative in fall 2015 when Dr. Jenifer Cushman, then dean at the Zanesville Campus, introduced the program to the University. In its initial year, five faculty participated as fellows.

Dr. Gabriela Popa of the Zanesville Campus was among the five faculty members who participated in a weeklong training during Spring Break 2016. She then participated in a six-week online training for a USA-Mexico collaboration followed by additional training during fall semester, including a three-day workshop in Cuernavaca, Mexico, where she met Dr. Elvira Morgado from the Biology School at Universidad Veracruzana in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico.

The pair worked intensely to develop the COIL module during the three-day workshop. As part of COIL, Popa offered a pilot COIL-enhanced module in the Special Topics in Physics- Design of Research Projects class this spring. “We bounced back and forth our ideas many times until we felt comfortable with the common project,” Popa explained. “Our students will feel much more confident interacting with one another, and they’ll learn a great deal about their respective cultures, as Elvira and I have experienced working together.”

“I appreciated the opportunity to share my presentation with the students from Mexico,” said Elloria Shaw, a College Credit Plus student in Popa’s physics class. “I had never presented research before, and it helped having the opportunity to record my presentation and get feedback.”

The students’ experiences went beyond course curriculum to enhanced cultural understanding. “It was amazing to see how much our surroundings influence our career interests,” said Shaw. “For example, Chema, one of the Mexican students, shared he was interested in octopi because they are commonplace in his area, whereas I am interested in aviation because of its history in Ohio.”

The Mexican and American students worked on projects, which they posted and presented using Trello and Facebook, allowing them to present, respond to questions and receive feedback. Two of Popa’s students presented at the Student Research and Creative Activity Expo in Athens where Shaw earned second place in one of the Undergraduate Physics categories at the Expo with her project entitled, “Investigating the Efficiency of Wind Turbines.”

Adding to the benefit of the COIL project, Popa invited Morgado to visit the Zanesville Campus where she met with Popa’s class as well as with several faculty members to share their work and build networking relationships. Those who met with Morgado included Dr. Deb Dodson and Dr. Tarig Higazi, both biological science faculty; Dr. Shadi Abu-Baker and Dr. Shah Ghaffari, chemistry faculty; Dr. Beatrice Giannandrea, Spanish faculty; Ms. Liesta Walker, family and consumer science faculty; and Dr. Lorena Fulton, social work faculty member.

Now that the pilot is wrapping up, Popa and her collaborator are evaluating the academic and socio-cultural assignments and working on the next COIL class to be offered in the fall. The meetings the two had with faculty at the Zanesville Campus are also helping build networks for future COIL collaborations. Those who are interested in learning more about participating in the COIL project should contact Sheida Shirvani, coordinator for the COIL project for the regional campuses, at shirvani@ohio.edu