Design and Methodology


Challenged-Based Learning Approach

The IVSC E-module is based on the Challenge-Based learning approach that  can be described as a multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that encourages students to use research, reflection, and technology in their everyday lives to solve real-world problems. It is a collaborative and hands-on approach where students work with peers, teachers, and experts to ask meaningful questions, deepen their knowledge in a specific field, accept and overcome challenges, take action, and share their experiences.

Thematic areas of the IVSC

The thematic areas under consideration IVSC align with specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): sustainability primarily corresponds to SDGs 11 and 13, gender equality is associated with SDG 5, and race equality is linked to SDGs 10 and 16. The overarching framework adopted in these themes reflects the principles enshrined in SDG 4, which focuses on ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education.

In addition to the aforementioned themes, there exists the potential to complement them with other thematic areas that address inclusion and contemporary societal challenges. For instance, the theme of poverty, which pertains to SDG 1, could be integrated to further enrich the comprehensive approach towards fostering inclusivity.

IVSC E-module structure

The IVSC E-module is designed as a workshop consisting of five learning blocks of approximately two hours each. There are four key elements to the core content of the IVSC E-MODULE, which broadly allow for the CBL approach to be applied:  ENGAGE, INVESTIGATE, ACT and EVALUATE:

Sessions delivered as five two-hour learning blocks

These five sessions are designed to be delivered in different ways to enhance its flexibility and adaptability. In terms of its overall workload and ECTS weighting, it involves a total of 30 contact hours, that is 10 for each thematic area, each worth 1 credit making an overall total of 3 ECTS credits. Students are also expected to work independently in their teams for a further 30 hours per module, that is 10 hours per theme. The module can be delivered intensively over a number of days, or less intensively over weeks or  months depending on what is feasible in the partner institutions who must all agree the best structure to suit their needs and how many thematic strands will be covered.


The E-MODULE is delivered fully online and there is some flexibility as to how it can be offered, including the number of hours and whether it is delivered embedded into existing modules or as a stand-alone module. This will encourage greater uptake and engagement and maximize its potential impact and benefits, as is described below:

  • Option 1: The E-MODULE can be embedded into a suitable, existing subject module, with between one and three thematic strands included, representing 1 to 3 ECTS credits. For instance, it can be integrated by thematic strand into modules where the focus is on language, culture, intercultural studies, European studies, global citizenship, or in other discipline modules such as geography, sociology, history, politics, nursing, business and engineering.
  • Option 2: The E-MODULE can be offered as a stand-alone module worth 3 ECTS credits in total and comprising all three thematic components. In this case, the various thematic strands, each worth 1 ECTS credit can be taken by semester or by year of the degree programme, as relevant; for instance, postgraduate students enrolled on a one year degree programme can take one thematic strand per semester while undergraduates and PhD students, can take the various strands over a number of years according to the duration and structure of their programme.

IVSC challenge

The IVSC E-MODULE involves students using Challenge-based learning in relation to one or more of the three thematic areas. For each thematic strand, students identify a specific related challenge that requires investigation and problem-solving, and it is on the basis of how they approach this challenge, and the learning and outcomes achieved, that the module is assessed. In this regard, students are required to work on the design, production and launching of a video of three minutes’ duration on social media, to raise awareness and engage peers in the wider community in relation to the challenge. They are also required to describe, rationalise and critically evaluate their approach and the associated learning during their participation in a 10 minutes Q/A discussion with an Evaluation Panel.

Participant roles

There are five fundamental roles within the IVSC programme: Institution Partner Coordinators, Mentors, Teamchers, Challenge-based learners, and the Evaluation Panel. Each role plays a unique and essential part in fostering a transformative learning experience. From guiding and supporting participants to facilitating engaging  interactions and producing innovative solutions, these roles are instrumental in the success and impact of the IVSC initiative.

Image adapted from: Moore, M., Evain, C., Geer, B., & Hawkridge, S. (2023, February). The “Virtual Environmental Challenge” and the UN’s 2030 Agenda: How Challenge Based Learning Empowers Lifelong Learning. Lillehammer Lifelong Learning ICDE Conference 2023. Image credits: Microsoft Office.

The Institutional Partner Coordinator (IPC) plays a long-term and vital role within each institution, overseeing the implementation of the IVSC E-MODULE in the university. The IPC is responsible for:

  • overall coordination of the E-MODULE in their home institution and is the contact person for all teaching staff and facilitators involved in the E-MODULE delivery;
  • promotion of the E-MODULE in their home university, and the recruitment of teaching staff and facilitators;
  • liaising with IPCs in partner institutions in order to facilitate the establishment of inter-institutional teams and the matching of suitable modules;
  • delivering initial training for teaching staff and facilitators in relation to the E-MODULE once interest has been established;
  • monitoring, assuring quality and record keeping;
  • participating in the Evaluation Panel (see below).


We highly recommend having at least one Mentor per institution. For new Mentors joining our program, we suggest recruiting individuals with prior experience in Virtual Exchange. To familiarize themselves with the process, they can also review previous TRIP case studies. Specific training for Mentors will be provided, and IPCs will take responsibility for conducting this training using the IVSC training material. Mentors are people who have experience with a live edition of the IVSC and can take on a wide range of roles from support to communication. Mentors:

  • act as an educational support to the IPC and can take on tasks such as educational design, and digital badge and certificate delivery;
  • act as a bridge between the IPC and inter-institutional Teamchers;
  • play a role in quickly disseminating communications to Teamchers (who in turn can deliver the message to Challenge-based learners, etc.);
  • guide of Teamchers as they navigate their IVSC facilitation role for the first time;
  • serve on the Evaluation Panel.


Teamchers fill the traditional student facing role in the IVSC, and so she/he is a facilitator. This role is generally open to people who have started or completed postgraduate studies. Given the flexibility of the CBL-IVSC model, this role can also be filled by doctorates and, indeed, lecturers if necessary. Teamchers are expected to:

  • have received training on the IVSC methodology and resources;
  • liaise with Challenge-based learners;
  • aid Challenge-based learners in understanding the IVSC and resources;
  • facilitate the sharing of IVSC project ideas;
  • deliver didactic materials on the chosen topic;
  • suggest resources, digital tools, and multimedia;
  • support Challenge-based learners with project production;
  • guide Challenge-based learners towards the final production;
  • act as a cheerleader during the IVSC presentation;
  • debrief learners following the challenge.


The Challenge-based learner teams are generally composed of students; however, it is possible to extend the criteria, i.e. to include people from any level of education or, indeed, life given the nature of the SDG 4’s ‘education for all’ principle. Challenge-based learners are expected to:

  • understand the tasks related to the IVSC;
  • share ideas;
  • find a problem or a topic;
  • research;
  • formulate solutions;
  • share evaluations of the problem and solution;
  • implementation of concept through IVSC digital productions;
  • attend the session with the Evaluation panel.

The Evaluation Panel for the IVSC will play a crucial role in assessing the progress and outcomes of each iteration. It should be representative and inclusive, consisting of one Mentor, one IPC, one student, and where possible, one CBL quality monitor. The panel should include faculty members and student representatives in equal proportions who are not directly involved in the current challenge to ensure impartiality and diverse perspectives. The Evaluation Panel will be responsible for assessing the teams' submissions, progress, and final outcomes based on predefined criteria. They will offer valuable suggestions and feedback to the participating teams, guiding them towards improvement and innovation.