LEARN1 is perhaps best known for e-­learning, offering online tutoring, and virtual classrooms, and it’s all just a mouse ­click away.  But how can school spirit and connections be created when students are separated by hundreds, and even thousands, of kilometres, and they may not ever see one another or even be in classes together?  As part of its efforts to connect with the students it serves, LEARN’s online teaching team wanted to extend the engagement of its online students to activities outside the classroom by hosting a live Twitter chat.  The purpose was to create a stronger sense of community amongst our online students, whom we almost never get to meet face to face, and who almost never get to see each other.

A few times every year since 2014, LEARN teachers and students join together in the evening for fast-paced Twitter chats (#LQchat). Some questions may be about learning online, but more are about the students’ interests and lives, allowing them to connect with each other and the teachers in LEARN’s team.

Our latest Twitter chat was unique. We not only invited our current students, but we reached out to past students to join in the fun. The #LQHomecoming chat was co-moderated by students from geographically separated schools in Western and Eastern Quebec. Students from as far back as the class of 2012 engaged enthusiastically in the real-time conversation and shared some details of their academic journeys since leaving LEARN and heading to post-secondary.  Below are some examples of some of the Twitter conversations generated.

The speed of the interactions and engagement of students is powerful and makes the #LQchat the fastest-flying half hour.  Educators from across the province value and support the strategy and engagement. Students from across the province who take part in online classes find a mutual voice and connection, and a network of students that spans time is created – everyone can join in!

1 LEARN (Leading English Education and Resource Network) is a non-profit educational organization with a mandate to serve the English-speaking community of Quebec and its 92,000 students. LEARN accomplishes this by offering a wide range of resources and services that include elementary and secondary level teaching tools and content; professional learning; community, school, and parental support; as well as a full range of online learning services through the LEARN Virtual Campus.