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Harnessing Innovation Through Virtual Exchange (HIVER) by IIE

Updated: Aug 31, 2022

A future-focused, cross-continental VE program using Linkr to deliver.

Started by the Institute of International Education, with support from the Steven's Initiative, the HIVER program is dedicated to developing intercultural communication and problem-solving skills among student bodies in universities across the USA and MENA (Middle East & North Africa) by leveraging the collaborative learning potential of virtual exchange.*

This semester, 841 students from 10 MENA and U.S. partner universities participated in 13 courses in a variety of fields, including computing and technology, business and entrepreneurship, and engineering.

The Linkr Connection

Up until their adoption of a linkr, HIVER program administrators relied on five to six different platforms to launch and support the program from 2020 to 2022.

They heard about how Linkr can simplify operations at the 2021 International Virtual Exchange Conference and made a quick decision to adopt their own. Less than six months later, the HIVER community had a very real, virtual homebase, easily accessible by all members, where they could exchange, grow (exponentially), stay organized, and connect across the various institutions and time zones.

HIVER’s initial goals for faculty and administration were pretty straightforward:

  1. provide opportunities for networking and resource sharing,

  2. manage and coordinate program activities,

  3. and measure the impact the program is having on student learning.

After just one semester, HIVER leaders can already tick two out of three boxes, with the third just being a matter of time.

Outcomes: The Good, The Bad, and The Happy

We follow our clients’ linkr journeys closely, and with their feedback, compile what’s working and what’s not along the way, and capture the biggest feels for all involved!

So here’s the good, the bad, and the happy of HIVER’s first few months with Linkr:

The Good

Getting it Together

The sudden streamlining and organizing of certain operational aspects for admin and faculty was a welcome result for the HIVER team.

Pivot Rewards

Teachers were under no obligation to use the HIVER linkr for curriculum delivery, but for those who spontaneously chose to pivot right away and use their linkr to deliver classes, the benefits were immediate: increased visibility and knowledge-sharing among both faculty and students was noted.

Toot, Toot!

We’re killing it on the support front.

“The hands-on support we've received from the Linkr team is simply second to none. The time, effort and dedication provided to us by the Linkr team throughout is, in short, exceptional.” - Dr. Mohamed Fahmy, Program Manager, HIVER

"Even though some partners were not technology savvy, the support we at IIE and partners had was remarkable. This is very important to support the virtual exchange and facilitate the communication"
- Nesrin Sobhy Ahmed, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Manager at Institute of International Education

The Bad

Linkr Off Limits?

When partnering with such a variety of institutions worldwide, each with their own relationship to online technology, there are bound to be adoption hurdles. Despite the fact that Linkr also ticks all the internet safety boxes (GDPR compliant, zero selling or sharing of user data, zero ads), some universities expect all course delivery, faculty and student body engagement to take place on their proprietary platforms and internal networks. Approval to use external platforms like Linkr isn’t always automatic.

However, as multi-institutional collaboration happens so much more effectively on Linkr platforms, even institutions with these types of restrictions are coming to recognize the need and benefits of neutral virtual spaces for their communities to thrive.

The Happy

Know Thyself

To us, the most significant outcome so far was captured in the words of IIE’s Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Manager:

“ Linkr helped in creating a sense of identity for HIVER among the various partners”

This is kind of huge. Community identity, sense of belonging, a place to call home - as corny as it may sound, it’s at the root of why we all do what we do, and vital for any organization to succeed. We’re beyond happy that HIVER’s linkr is contributing so readily toward cementing its community and identity around such a new program with so much potential for so many.

Moving Forward

The relief of moving to Linkr for programs like HIVER is palpable. No more chasing after information and outcomes or juggling multiple platforms. With the simple introduction of a dedicated linkr, HIVER’s mission of innovation through virtual exchange is being demonstrated daily, showing how easy it can be to walk the talk.

Note: The HIVER Program is a virtual exchange program that develops intercultural communication and problem-solving skills among diverse students at participating U.S. and MENA universities. HIVER is supported by the Stevens Initiative, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, with funding provided by the U.S. Government, and is administered by the Aspen Institute. The Stevens Initiative is also supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.


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