“Student mobility is on the rise. A previous Communiqué of the Conference of European Ministers Responsible for Higher Education set a target of at least 20% of those graduating in the European higher education area having participated in a study or training period abroad by 2020. While this aim is very desirable, it does beg the question: What about the remaining 80% of students who may not engage in some kind of physical mobility during their studies?”
EAIE (European Associaation for International Education) has pointed the issue with existing and so called physical mobility. How could this be handled? Many argue that virtual mobility is a way to go. Although, the experience of someone spending a semester abroad can never be the same as someone taking courses online, yet it is still a good opportunity in order to gain some kind of intercultural competence while staying in owns own country.
According to the elearningeuropa portal, Virtual Mobility means: “The use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to obtain the same benefits as one would have with physical mobility but without the need to travel.”
In order to reach the goal of virtually mobilizing a larger proportion of the 80% of students who do not take part in some kind of physical mobility, this initiative normally has to face some challenges. Obviously, technological, organisational as well as time constrains play a role. In my opinion, when talking about virtual mobility of students ECTS play again a major role. It is very hard to believe that a student will take part in a course or even more of them if he does not get the credits for it. Thus, a mechanism is to be developed in order to enable students to take part in courses of other universities virtually, where the ECTS are ensured. A best practice scenario in my opinion, would be courses which are offered from more universities at the same time with the same content. Taking the course Communication in “Massive Open Online Courses” which is this semester offered by University of Salzburg as an example, it can actually simultaneously be offered by other universities, and we could actually have had the opportunity to discuss the topics relevant to MOOCs with students from other universities, different cultures and backgrounds. Moreover, besides being part of the course, the students who then know each other could register for MOOCs together. This could in my opinion increase someone’s motivation to engage in the discussion of the content learnt in MOOCs, hence you actually know someone who is taking the same online course as you.
The following site sums up the most important facts about virtual mobility, its types and models as well as challenges of virtual mobility.