Megan Mocko

Continuing a global impact through virtual exchange

I teach QMB 3250, Statistics for Business Decisions. In this course, we talk about ANOVA and regression, but students also get an opportunity to participate in a virtual exchange. A virtual exchange (VE) is when two instructors from different institutions (usually countries as well) work together to participate in a shared activity or activities. Over the past year and a half, I have been working with Ricardo Lopez from the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador to create a virtual exchange between our two statistics courses.

Our first virtual exchange occurred in the Spring of 2022. In this exchange, we had students work through three case studies where they complete a data analysis. Due to differences in statistical analysis software between the two institutions, we changed our activities for the next iteration in the fall of 2022. During the first activity, students collect five pictures of their favorite things, and the pictures could include themselves or not. The students then bring the pictures to a Zoom meeting where they share their pictures and create a common slide that describes their team. The students love this activity and create collages of photos of pets, sports, and fun activities with friends. This activity reduces the anxiety about working with students in a different country in a learning experience. Before the next session, students get ready to complete an activity on data ethics (Baumer et al., 2022) and read a summary of three articles that present three uses of data downloaded from OkCupid, an online dating website. The students are then assigned one of four questions to answer about the ethical use of the data. They then write a one-paragraph letter to the editor of a journal that published the work based on this data set together in a Zoom meeting. This opportunity to meet with students from another country and discuss ethical issues about data gives students an international experience before they do this for the first time for their jobs.

In the summer of 2022, I made a visit to Quito, Ecuador, to visit the Universidad San Francisco de Quito and to meet with Ricardo Lopez in person. In the Spring of 2023, Ricardo made a trip to the University of Florida to meet faculty here and attend Interface (UF teaching conference) and RiTL (the new Research in Teaching and Learning Conference at UF). His trip was sponsored by the UF Center for Latin American Studies, Center for Teaching Excellence, and International Center. The Warrington College of Business also sponsored a cookie and coffee session and small dinner for faculty during his visit.

As part of his visit, Ricardo and I met with the committee that organized RiTL, toured campus, and gave a presentation at Interface. We also had several opportunities to meet with different groups around campus, such as the Global Learning Community of Practice organized through the International Center.

We also collaborated with Jeffrey Pufahl, Research Assistant Professor in UF’s Center for Arts in Medicine, and his virtual exchange partner Dr. Denise de Cassia Moreira Zornoff, Professor of Medicine at Botucatu Medial School, UNESP, in Brazil. Our joint talk at Interface was about our experiences conducting virtual exchanges and included an activity for attendees to read through a case study about virtual exchanges and make recommendations for improvement. After learning about ways to improve an existing virtual exchange design, the participants were challenged with designing their own virtual exchange experience.

On Saturday, we also went on a relaxing quick float in a kayak down the Santa Fe River.


As for the future, Ricardo and I plan to present our research that we have conducted on the virtual exchange activity at the International Virtual Exchange Conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil this fall. Ricardo worked with Carrie Martins and Paloma Rodriguez from the University of Florida International Center to create a Spanish version of the International Critical Thinking (IntCRIT) and International Communication (IntCOMM) Attitudes and Beliefs survey. Ricardo and I are going to continue the virtual exchange on ethical issues relating to data. The topic is complex enough that it generates interesting conversations about information posted in a public forum but used for another purpose. We hope to expand our cooperation and perhaps set up a study abroad exchange between our two schools.

If you are interested in taking the UF virtual exchange training through the Office of Global Learning, professional development funding is available to UF faculty who successfully complete the course.  They are currently accepting applications. More information can be found on UF International Center’s Virtual Exchange Training webpage. Every spring, there is also an opportunity to participate in the Global Learning Institute, where faculty participants explore a variety of strategies for course internationalization. I participated in this experience in the spring of 2023, and it was a wonderful experience. I am also happy to talk with anyone who might be interested in virtual exchange.