Department of Educational Administration


Date of this Version



Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, Volume 35, Issue 1 (April 2023), pp. 325-344

DOI: 10.36366/frontiers.v35i1.789


The work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Virtual exchanges (VEs) are course-based experiences designed to promote global learning, often by integrating cross-cultural interactions and collaborations with people from other areas of the world into coursework in a virtual format. Due to the widespread disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, VEs have seen an increase in popularity. However, research findings on the effectiveness of VEs are mixed, and limited guidance is available to VE instructors on how to structure and facilitate these programs. The purpose of this paper is to highlight how theories and literature in two distinct areas of scholarship, Intergroup Contact theory and the Community of Inquiry model in online learning, could be applied to VEs to maximize student learning. We discuss each of these theories first and then highlight how they could be applied to VEs using illustrative examples from a pilot study of five VE courses offered at one institution during the summer of 2021.