Durban University of Technology’s Dr Anisa Vahed, a senior lecturer in the Dental Sciences Department, is passionate about promoting excellence, especially for her work on Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL).
COIL was founded in 2006 by the State University of New York Professor Jon Rubin, as a model for fostering cross-cultural student competence through the development of multicultural learning environments that link University or college classes in different countries online.
Dr Vahed, an NRF ‘Y-Rated’ researcher, along with her international colleague, Professor Fábio de Souza, from the Federal University of Pernambuco in Brazil, are at the forefront of the current Green Dentistry COIL virtual ‘Sustainability and Green Dentistry’ exchange project. The COIL project officially began on Friday, 2 October 2020 and ends on Tuesday, 24 November 2020.
Dr Vahed, who started using COIL in 2016, said she became involved in COIL due to the strong call within DUT for incorporating eLearning into teaching and learning. Also, she has vast research interests including undergraduate research-engaged teaching and internationalising the curriculum through collaborative online international learning virtual exchange programmes. She added that COIL is built on the premise of team teaching, language skills development, intercultural competence and technology.
Professor de Souza is currently an Associate Professor, Biosafety Commission Co-ordinator, and a Distance Learning Co-ordinator at UFPE. He is also a specialist in Health Teaching and Health Surveillance and has vast experience in Dentistry focusing on research in the areas of Integrated Clinic, Dentistry, Dental Materials, Health Education, Biosafety and Ergonomics.
Speaking more on the project, Dr Vahed said that in preparation of the COIL project, DUT students had to complete several tasks before and during the COVID-19 lockdown period with her. She said that the COIL project is not difficult in terms of the standards between two different levels of educational institutions with varied perspectives and experiences.
She stressed that the students both from DUT and Brazil were sufficiently prepared prior to the commencement of the project which made it easier for the DUT students to be able to work efficiently with their COIL partners from Brazil.
Several DUT and Brazil students gave feedback on their experience to date, with the general consensus being that their interaction with each other has been educational and humbling. With many students of the view that their different personalities, cultures and diverse backgrounds make the COIL project even more interesting.
“Essentially, the COIL project has been beneficial for teaching, guiding and preparing students for the real world,” said Dr Vahed.
DUT COIL student Zama Nzimande gave more insight into her involvement and knowledge of the project, saying that Dr Vahed prepared them thoroughly through the group tasks in relation to and gaining an understanding of what the Green Dentistry coil project is all about.
“We hope to take away a lot of knowledge in all aspects, academically, socially and personally, as this is such a great learning curve not just from a dentistry project view but a cultural and diverse point as well. Therefore, we aim in creating good friendships that will continue even after the project, and in equipping us as we navigate around the world,” she said.
Pictured: COIL students from DUT and Brazil.