What is an Experiences Canada Virtual Exchange?

An Experiences Canada Virtual Exchange is a fun, engaging online activity that can support social studies, language, and creative studies curricula from Grades 7-12, as well as second language. It virtually twins groups or individual youth in different part of Canada based on age, grade level and shared goals and objectives for the program. Experiences Canada virtual exchange program connects young people and encourages them to discover the diverse history, geography, languages, cultures and ways of life that shape our country.

How do I know if I am eligible to apply?

The Experiences Canada Exchanges program is accessible to groups of youth from a Canadian school or recognized community organization, and to individual youth participant residing in Canada.

How old are the youth that participate?

Experiences Canada Virtual Exchanges are designed for youth between the ages of 12 and 17 years, Grade 7-12. 

How long is an exchange?

Participants can work at their own pace, as long as all completed student projects are submitted by June 1st.

Can a student participate to more than one virtual exchange?

Yes, youth participants can partake in more than one Experiences Canada virtual exchange. Participation in the virtual exchange program does not affect eligibility to the in-person exchange program.

How does it work?

Classes/Groups of youth or individual youth are twinned together based on age level and shared goals and objectives for the program. Each group or individual participant will have the opportunity to choose from up to six different activity units.

What are the topics for each unit?

There are 6 units. The topics are:

  • Daily life
  • Economy
  • History
  • Indigenous Perspectives
  • Geography/environment
  • Arts and Culture
How many units must be completed?

Only the first unit on Daily Life is compulsory for all participants. A minimum of four (4) units should be completed for groups and individuals wishing to be pre-approved for an in-person exchange the next year (or when it is safe to do so).

Educators,   youth groups or individuals may alternatively choose to do any one or all six units; and they can choose between having their whole group work on one or more unit, or,  dividing their class into smaller teams, with each group responsible for completing a specific unit.

What do students have to do to complete a unit?

Each activity unit challenges youth to create a specific media product (i.e. a video, a photo gallery, a website.) Templates, examples and step-by-step guidelines are provided for each unit/topic. Once completed, groups or individual youth participant, first share their creation with their twins through an online meeting scheduled in real time using the school or home approved platform (I.e. Zoom, Google hangout…etc.) before sending them to Experiences Canada (alternatives offered when high speed connectivity is a challenge.)

What is the goal for the media products submitted by participants?

Each media product created by the participants contribute to a national project. The media products completed by the youth are to, first of all, be shared with their twins to discover each other’s communities; then submitted to Experiences Canada to populate a virtual interactive Map entitled; This! Is Canada, available from Experiences Canada’s website, highlighting all participating communities, and offering other visitors a Virtual tour across Canada.

When does our group virtually exchange?

The virtual exchange program launches in January 2021. The modules are to be completed at the participants’ own pace although the youth media products must all be submitted to Experiences Canada by June 1st.

Do students miss school?

No, each activity unit is designed with the flexibility to permit teachers, parents/guardians to assign modules as individual or small group work-respecting social distancing protocols, with the majority of tasks completed online. Each module can easily be integrated within existing curriculum. Each module includes assessments and larger questions to help guide teachers/educators/parents-guardians.

How do I find a group to twin with?

Groups or individual participants who have connections across the county can ask to be paired together. You can indicate their name and information on your application and encourage them to apply as well. Otherwise, our staff will look for a twin group or individual participant for you by identifying a twin that matches your own demographics, and interests. Twinning groups or individual participant is based on compatibility including similar themes, equitable provincial and territorial distribution, and group or individual youth participation history.  

How do I apply for an exchange?

The Application form is available from our website. Organizer complete and submit their application. An organizer can be a teacher, a community leader such as a sports team coach for example, or a parent/guardian of an individual participant.  Individual youth must apply with parental/guardian consent.

When is the deadline to apply for an exchange?

We suggest registering your interest to participate by November 30th to help facilitate twinning.  Final applications will be accepted until Dec 31st.

When will I know if my application is accepted?

As soon as you submit an application online, you will receive an automated e-mail acknowledging receipt of your application. Notices of twinning are sent in early January.

What if I have already applied to an in-person exchange for 2020-21, will my application be automatically considered for a virtual exchange?

If you would like your original in-person application to be converted to a virtual exchange please contact Experiences Canada to assist you.

Does Experiences Canada provide any kind of orientation to Group Organizers?

Experiences Canada provides on-going support and guidance throughout the virtual exchange-planning process. A detailed Organizer/Teachers Guide and a mandatory orientation zoom call are provided to ensure that Organizers are well versed in what it takes to have a successful virtual exchange.

How do the students access the modules?

The modules are delivered through an Online Learning System TalentLms that tracks student’s progress.

What is the Organizer/Teachers Guide?

The organizer/teachers Guide includes an overview of the program; Participants Guidelines and Permissions and Module-by-Module Instructions including technical specifications for projects and log on information. Experiences Canada provides templates for all projects

How much will a virtual exchange cost?

Each group pays a participation fee of $100 upon confirmation of their twinning offer. Alternatively $ 10 per youth participating individually. Virtual or electronic costs to produce youth projects during the exchange are paid for by the groups.  

What kinds of activities are involved?

Each activity unit is designed with the flexibility to permit teachers to assign it as individual or small group work-respecting social distancing protocols, with the majority of tasks completed online.

Who chooses the participants?

Each organizers chooses their own participants. Groups may consist of students in an existing school class or youth from a community association such as dance troupes, music clubs, sports teams, Scouts, Girl Guides, Boys and Girls Clubs, and others.Recognising that many youth are studying independently at home this year, Experiences Canada is also offering an option for individual youth to apply and be twinned with other individual youth in Canada. A parent/guardian is responsible to submit an application and ensure the virtual comfort and safety of their child throughout the exchange project.

How do I know the youth participants will be safe in this Virtual environment?

The safety and security of our exchange participants is Experiences Canada’s number one priority. All works presented on the Experiences Canada website will require permissions from parents and/or organizers, and students will only be identified by name and school/organization as submitted to us.

As groups are directly responsible for the primary online interactions between the groups we encourage them to review school/group privacy and appropriate use policies with youth participants. 

What if there are any behavioral issues during the virtual exchange?

Although an Experiences Canada representative is always available to discuss situations, the Organizers are responsible for the day-to-day supervision and overall management of their virtual exchange. All emergencies and/or incidents are to be dealt with in a timely, appropriate and professional manner by the Organizer or another responsible adult from their school or organization. If there is an issue arising between participants in the exchange, please contact your Experiences Canada exchange coordinator at the earliest opportunity.

Will I have to sign an agreement if I am offered an exchange?

Yes, the group or parent of an individual youth will be required to sign an agreement and to comply with the terms and conditions of the virtual exchange program.

What if I have other questions?

Experiences Canada staff are available Monday through Friday from 8:30am-4:30pm (Eastern Standard Time) to answer any and all of your questions.

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