Let¶s Connect: Integrate Authentic Global Collaboration and Communication in Student Learning

Rita Oates, PhD www.epals.com

What collaborations do you have now?
‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ Within school? Within district? Within state? Within U.S.? Outside U.S. borders?

‡ How do you find partners? ‡ How do you communicate? ‡ Any ePals users here?

Hill City Elementary

Bringing the world to rural Kansas through social networking

Statewide projects with ePals
Maine: 150,000 students Wisconsin: 800,000 Pennsylvania: 1.8
million students, Classroom For the Future state¶s KanEd portal

Kansas: 400,000 students, on the

Colorado: 800,000 students through eNet Colorado

Example profile: Students learning to speak English

120+ Turkish teachers have submitted profiles in 2011! (All seek English speakers.)

ePals user since 2002

‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ What is ePals? Stories of collaboration Finding a global partner How to use ePals SchoolMail What are my first steps? More resources and what¶s new!

Learners Connect, Communicate and Collaborate 
Largest K-12 social learning network globally, reaching more than 25 million students, teachers and parents in 200 countries  Leading provider of cloud-based, policy-managed email and social learning solutions for schools and districts
25 Million Students & Teachers Worldwide



Largest Community of Connected, Global Classrooms

Next Generation Email and Communications

Social Learning Environment for Collaboration and Community


ePals is Where Learners Connect
ePals¶ solutions enable schools to deploy ePal¶s safe and collaborative next generation learning ± all accessed through the SchoolSafe® education desktop

ePals¶ Solutions CONNECT 
Largest social learning network globally. Links all ePals students and teachers to participate in collaborative projects, join community discussions and connect with other classrooms in a safe environment.

SchoolSafe Desktop Unifies Solutions
ePals¶ SchoolSafe desktop is where students and educators go daily to connect, communicate, collaborate and discover content and apps in a safe, policy-managed environment

Enterprise-grade, cloud email and communications specifically designed for K12. Robust policies set by the school govern all communications and manage access to third-party learning applications.

Social learning environment for community and collaboration. Designed for project-based learning and group collaboration in virtual workspaces across a full suite of safe social media tools.

Curriculum-based literacy program matches students with e-mentors to enhance reading, writing and critical thinking skills. First in a series of learning applications built on the ePals platform.


Distributed Learning Platform 

Provides partners with access to ePal¶s education cloud platform capabilities, enabling them to rapidly build and deploy policy-managed, collaborative, next generation learning applications surfaced on the SchoolSafe desktop.


‡ Connecting 700,000 classrooms in 200 countries & territories ‡ 2,500+ new schools/month ‡ Policy managed and Teacher supervised ‡ Trusted pipeline to the world¶s classrooms ‡ TRUSTe certification

ePals Brings Next-Generation Solutions to Schools free -- students and their teachers locate, connect with and work collaboratively with another class free -- secure online communication for students, parents, teachers and administrators, instant translation in 58 languages. ³Problem word´ filter and ability to control how widely students can send/receive email.

ePals Brings Next-Generation Solutions to Schools
NEW in Feb. 2011! Safe, secure online communication for students, teachers, administrators, parents. ICT administrator can establish schoolsafe usage policies. Used by New York City Schools. $4/student + setup fee. No ads. A virtual workspace optimized for creating, sharing, managing and collaborating on educational content. Integrated web 2.0 tools: SchoolBlog, wikis, forums, digital portfolios, cloud-based storage and ePals SchoolMail, all with industry-leading safety and security for K-12 schools.

World Class Partners and Customers
Content and Technology Partners Example Customers 
> 900K students  140 countries 

1.1MM students  1,700 schools 

Integrated with

state-wide portal 

Opportunity of 460k  Provides state-wide

Opportunity of 850k

63,000 students  94 schools


‡ One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) (on all desktops, third world countries) ‡ Intel Classmate PC (designed for K-6 students, widely used in Portugal and other countries) * Ministry of Education, Kenya * LEAP, Thailand * Eduteka, Latin America, 75,000 teachers and Spanish-language content

‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ What is ePals? Stories of collaboration Finding a global partner How to use ePals SchoolMail What are my first steps? More resources and what¶s new!

Waterloo Junior High School in Waterloo, IL, USA is part of the Globally Connected World!
Your school can be also. It is just a Snap!

Bill Theobald Waterloo Junior High, Waterloo, IL

Bill Theobald
‡ 32 Years at Waterloo Junior High School in Waterloo, IL, USA ‡ 6th Grade Social Studies ‡ Boys¶ Basketball (24 years) ‡ Girls¶ Volleyball (30 years) ‡ ³Old Dog who learned some New Tricks!´ ‡ I¶m not a techie!

³Travels with Mr. T´
‡ A nine-week Geography Travelogue for students in grades 6, 7, and 8. ‡ Grade 6 concentrates on Western Hemisphere ‡ Grade 7 on Eastern Hemisphere ‡ Grade 8 focuses on Current Events

th 6

Grade ³Keypals´
‡ 6th Grade Encore students have ³Keypals´ in Canada ‡ Ms. Pat Cone, Hafford School, Hafford, Saskatchewan, Canada

7th Grade ³Keypals´
‡ 7th grade students have ³Keypals´ in Trieste, Italy. ‡ Professori Fabiana Degrassi, teaches English as a Second Language (ESL) at Instituto Comprensivo, Trieste, Italy

My wife and I visited the Degrassi family in Italy after several years of collaborating through ePals!

th 8

Grade ³Keypals´
‡ 8th grade students have ³Keypals´ in Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe, French West Indies. ‡ Professors Lucienne Zecler and Lena Racon teach English as a Second Language, College Front de Mer, Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe, French West Indies

Find a Cooperating International Classroom
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Use ePals ³Connect´ feature to find classroom partners. Look at ³New Profiles´ and post your request in ³Teacher Forum.´ Discuss with students ³Safe use of the Internet.´ Decide on a project or activity. Select or assign ³Keypals.´ Send your cooperating classroom an Excel file with first names, gender, and ePals addresses of your students. Learn to ³Approve´ or ³Delete´ emails as the Monitor of your account. Enjoy exchanging ePals emails worldwide.

For Fall 2008 collaboration, I posted in Teacher Forum on July 28

Two days later²offer to connect with a school in Bangladesh

Teacher Forum: Post looking for more partners for Bangladesh schools

Relief International-SOL Bangladesh
‡ January 7, 2009 - Email from Relief International in Washington, D.C. ³Would you be interested in submitting an application to travel all-expenses-paid to Bangladesh as part of Teacher Exchange 2009? You would be one of two teachers from the U.S. leaving February 14 and returning February 28.´

Chosen for the trip
‡ Selection letter received January 15.
Your application indicates that you are a deeply invested teacher and global citizen, and that you have worked to develop connections with Bangladeshi students through RI-SOL Youth Connect Worldwide.

³Student Exchange ± 2009´
‡ Lazina Sharmin, the (RI-B) chaperone, brought four of the most wonderful student-ambassadors to Waterloo, IL, USA. ‡ Mohammed Hasibur Rahman, Shubham Roy, Jannatul (Netu) Ferdous, and Afsana Mannan gave the city of Waterloo, IL a lesson in ³Culture.´ ‡ See Picture Show±³Student Exchange ± 2009´

Where We Are in 2009-2010
‡ 40 Pairs of Waterloo, IL, USA - Comilla, Bangladesh ³Keypals´ have completed the ePals Project ³The Way We Are´ ‡ Each pair of Waterloo, IL, USA - Comilla, Bangladesh ³Keypals´ collaborated while 12,000 miles apart.

Continuing Friendship: Fundraising for a 2nd computer in Comilla school
‡ Student ³Hat Day´ as Waterloo students conduct a fundraiser, ³Bucks for Bangladesh,´ to purchase a second computer station for their ³Keypals´ in Comilla.

We use Skype to talk with International ³Keypals´
‡ www.skype.com ‡ Used by organizations and people worldwide, free. ‡ For cost of a $50 webcam you can talk to students, classrooms, or family members ³Face to Face´ anywhere in the world. ‡ Meet my great teaching partner, Professori Fabiana Degrassi, Instituto Comprensivo, Trieste, Italy. ‡ Projected on wall in gym so all can participate!

We'd like you to meet our ePals from Brazil
Mrs. Russell's First Grade Glenwood Elementary Vestal, NY

Hello From Sao Paolo, Brazil

School: EMEIF "Terezinha do Menino Jesus Porto Wuó" Town: Santa Branca State: Sao Paolo Country: Brazil

The School in Brazil -How does it look like ours? -How does it look different?

Our square is being rebuilt. See how our town is a hilly place!

Collaboration across the Digital Divide: New York Students and their ePals in Botswana

A story of global connections that transcend socioeconomic status, culture and place.

Students from the Guangxi School, China

Shared language and cultural awareness, ChinaSan Diego, ages 1618

Their California ePals

These teachers have worked together for eight years«.some projects are just a few weeks or months!

Email Improves Reading and Writing Test Scores
State standardized test scores from a Newark Public Schools 4th grade class show significant reading and writing improvement through twice weekly use of email letter writing with fellow classmates and a peer classroom in Italy.

Not ³one more thing´ -- but a new way of advancing learning goals
‡ Spelling or vocabulary words homework
± You assign to write in sentences ± Instead, include words in an email to a partner

‡ Students get extra credit for posting a response to a question in the Student Forum ‡ Encourage students to read in the Student Forums on topics that interest them

Louisiana and United Kingdom
The students had so much fun reading emails from their new friends. They learned many ways they were alike as well as different. The student groups wrote about different aspects of their schools and videoed themselves to create a "documentary" about their school and community. We then exchanged "culture parcels" with the other class.

Loudoun County (VA) Public Schools
‡ Students study communities in grade 3. ‡ Contact classrooms from elsewhere in Virginia (urban/rural/suburban) and exchange information about their communities. ‡ Children grasp the idea of ³rural,´ ³urban,´ to compare to their own ³suburban´ as they communicate with peers from these areas. ‡ Next the class has a collaboration with a classroom in an area like theirs but in another country! ‡ Teachers use videoconferences with classrooms. ‡ Students use presentations and Google Earth to showcase their communities.

Most Popular Long-term Matches
#1 English as a Second Language teachers outside an English-speaking country want to pair their students with students in English countries #2 Teachers of foreign language want to pair their students with native speakers (i.e., teacher of Spanish wants to have Spanish speakers in Mexico)

French class in Spain

Spanish class in S. Korea

One-email exchanges too!
‡ Students create 10 questions for a classroom in a country they are studying in Geography, things ³not in the book´ ‡ Students search global community and find five potential partner classes ‡ Students copy profiles into a Word file ‡ Students submit questions and profiles to teacher ‡ Teacher writes to the other teachers, pasting in the student questions«..

Sample one-email from teacher
Dear (teachername), My geography class in Massachusetts has questions about your country. Could you please have a few students answer these questions in an email to me? If possible I would like to have the answers by Sept. 26. Here are the questions: <paste in the students¶ questions> Thanks so much for your help. Please let us know if we can answer any questions about Massachusetts!

Join the Conversation
‡ Did any of these stories resonate with you? ‡ How would your students benefit from these types of experiences? ‡ Do you know of possible partner schools elsewhere?

‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ What is ePals? Stories of collaboration Finding a global partner How to use ePals SchoolMail What are my first steps? More resources and what¶s new!

Finding a global partner
‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ Search by map Search by classroom Search by project Look at the ³new schools´ scrolling on the home page of ePals for newest profiles ‡ Search in Project Forums or Teacher Forums for very specific matches

Search by Map
Select a continent

Select a Country

3. Select a classroom from the profiles

Eliminate language barriers with translation tool!

English version of the Spanish profile

Translation to 58 languages!
‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ Most common languages listed first Less common languages listed second Both in alphabetical order This is an expansion as of late June 2009 from eight languages

Cautions«about your assumptions
‡ What age students are in Primary School? ‡ What age students are in a school called ³College´? Or a ³colegio´? ‡ When does the school year start and end? ‡ When are vacations or holidays?

Be specific about what you want!
‡ What do you study?
± Use keywords from your curriculum ± Geography: Mexico, Brazil, Russia

‡ Do you want to use an ePals project?
± Which one?

‡ When does your school year start and end?
± March-June is end of year in Iowa, but start of school year in Chile

‡ Interesting way for your students to practice writing to non-English speakers
± Make them more aware of how they say things so they aren¶t confusing!

How do you get a profile?
‡ You fill out some basic contact info ‡ You write your profile ‡ We have real people who read and approve them«or ask for revisions! Teachers can¶t contact other classrooms without having a profile submitted and approved.

ePals Global Community Classroom Match ± Create Your Classroom Profile

A Successful Profile Includes:
1. Age-range of class 2. Language(s) the students speak 3. Location of the classroom 4. Location of desired partner

A Successful Profile Includes:
5. Collaboration tools (email, postal mail, blogs, video conferences) 6. Length of desired collaboration (3 weeks in October) 7. Frequency of desired collaboration (weekly, monthly, at holidays) 8. Topic of desired collaboration (You can update this when you have a new project in mind!)

ePals Forums (also free)
‡ Student Forums
± We mediate the forums, so you don¶t have to read and approve postings. ± Your students can collaborate with other students safely, over the weekend. ± Your students can search and read student postings to see what others have said, a great way to practice authentic reading and writing!

‡ Project Forums make it easier to find matches for ePals projects ‡ Teacher Forums for topics you generate ‡ Parent Forums to help parents learn from other parents ‡ Adults can post in adult forums; students in Student Forum

Student Forums

Student Forum: Social Issues

Student viewpoints: Turkey, USA

‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ What is ePals? Stories of collaboration Finding a global partner How to use ePals SchoolMail What are my first steps? More resources and what¶s new!

SchoolMail:built for school use
‡ Features teachers asked for ‡ Teacher moderation:
± incoming/outgoing option

‡ Multiple levels of filtering ‡ Teachers can get copies for alternative assessment ‡ Translation to 58 languages

SchoolMail usernames
‡ Student: LindaS@maine.epals.com ‡ Teacher: LSanchez@maine.epals.com
± No extra charge for custom subdomain as maine.epals.com in district with 10,000+ st.

‡ Use existing names or we create them ‡ Roles and responsibilities assigned ‡ Batch upload from SIS (49K students in 2+ hours)

First Email with Built-in Language Translation

Safe and Protected Student Email:
‡ Safely integrate student email in appropriate, educational ways. ‡ Ask students to use academic language, spelling, punctuation ± and practice skills valuable in the business world. ‡ Preview students¶ incoming and outgoing email messages. ‡ Use email messages for alternative assessment. ‡ Ensure that messages are appropriate to age, setting and context.

Filter Levels
Level 1 All messages must be approved by the monitor, whether they contain profanity or not. Messages containing profanity must be approved by the monitor, but unflagged messages will reach their recipients automatically. The monitor will also receive a copy of every unflagged message. Messages containing profanity must be approved by the monitor, but unflagged messages will reach their recipients automatically. The monitor will not see unflagged messages. All profanity filters are off.

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4

Note: Click ³flagged student messages.´

Six Access Levels
(when set up as a district account)
Class/Monitor Students are limited to mailing other students who have the same monitor. Choose this access level if you want students to use email only for internal exercises within the classroom. Students are limited to mailing students and teachers in the same school. Choose this access level if you want students to use email only for school-based projects and communication. This option, available only if your ePALS SchoolMailΠsystem includes multiple schools, limits students to mailing students and teachers at schools created within your system. Choose this access level if you want students to use email only for districtand school-based projects and communication.




Six Access Levels
(widening the walls)
ePALS SchoolMailΠThis restricts student communication to other students with an ePals SchoolMail account regardless of school / district. ePals Allows students to communicate with other students with active accounts in the ePals Global Community. This option allows your students to email anyone with an email address, whether they are inside your district, part of ePALS or using the Internet through other means. Choose this access level to allow students to email anyone, anywhere. Note: as a teacher, you might then go to Filter Level 1 and preview all outgoing and incoming messages.


Best-of-breed security + safety technologies

‡ Role-Based Permissions

Each user is assigned a role in their LearningSpace community (student, teacher, parent, administrator). Policies determine whether a role can create groups, view connections, and invite groups to collaborate. A policy can be set to manage student interaction with other members of your LearningSpace community. High school students may not be able to view profiles or request connections with K-5 students, unless they are in the same group.

‡ Controlled Connections

Best-of-breed security + safety technologies

‡ Content Moderation Written content (blog and forum posts, comments) can be reviewed before publishing or removed afterward by a designated moderator. ‡ Inappropriate Language Filters Multiple spellings of inappropriate words written in a blog, comment or message are automatically flagged and removed. Questionable content in emails sent to designated moderator.

‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ What is ePals? Stories of collaboration Finding a global partner How to use ePals SchoolMail What are my first steps? More resources and what¶s new!

District issues to consider
‡ Do you need to go through a district committee or director or your principal? ‡ TRUSTe certification for all ePals! ‡ At the bottom of each page of ePals, you can see:
± Privacy Policy ± Advertising Policy ± Terms of Use ± Copyright and Trademark Policy

School-wide setup
‡ We prefer to provision all teachers in your school with accounts, even though only a few may want to start right away. ‡ You provide a list of all teachers, and we can create teacher user names. ‡ We can upload student names with a ³batch upload tool´ and that can create student account names (unless you have names you want to use)

Types of Global Projects
‡ Empathy for others«visits, pen pals ‡ Finding new ways to enrich and engage«global citizenship ‡ Desire for social justice«peace studies, fundraising, activism

Start with a Specific Project

Clear Plan for Email Exchanges in the Project

Brief Lesson Plans

Great teacher-created projects

ePals Teacher Ambassador Contest Winners

Publish student work to a worldwide audience

Viewing audience in the millions

Join the Conversation
‡ Do you have questions about getting started with ePals?

‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ What is ePals? Stories of collaboration Finding a global partner How to use ePals SchoolMail What are my first steps? More resources and what¶s new!

How Tos, Manuals Under Help from home page

New: ePals Email Extras


Sign up online

Choices of Email Extras

Smithsonian ± The Natural World

Further Learning Opportunities
ePals 101 webinar: http://epals.101.sgizmo.com Global Education conference in November: http://globaleducation.ning.com/

Customer Fulfillment and Account Management
ePals has a team of Activation Specialists that will assist you every step of the way:
± ± ± ± ± Help upload accounts for your teachers and students Provide online training materials for you and your teachers Schedule ³Getting Started´ webinars Offer ³After-School´ webinar sessions for you and your teachers Provide tech administrators assistance with site support issues

To schedule a Webinar session: support@corp.epals.com

ePals Customer Team
‡ ‡ Rita Oates, Ph.D., Vice President, Education Markets roates@corp.epals.com Victoria McEachern, Vice President, Customer Fulfillment and Management vmceachern@corp.epals.com Steve Hodgin, Director, Customer Activation

‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡

Jacky Little, Account Activation jlittle@corp.epals.com Julie Martin, Sales Administrator jmartin@corp.epals.com ePals Customer Fulfillment Team (General Delivery Mailbox) sales@corp.epals.com ePals Support Team (unlimited email support) smsupport@corp.epals.com


TM LearningSpace

‡ Safely have multiple web 2.0 tools, a digital locker, email, blog, wiki, online portfolio, and much more. It¶s the next generation of web 2.0 for schools! (safer than Facebook, Ning or Google) 95% e-rate eligible. ‡ https://learningspace.epals.com
± View 10-minute video ± Sign up for a webinar ± Sign up for a 30-day pilot

‡ Open architecture: you can plug in other applications within the safe/secure settings. ‡ A school or district purchase. ‡ One district has purchased LS to effect a cost savings of $500,000 a year. Items formerly printed and shipped to schools will now be available in their LearningSpace.

Sample pages from new LearningSpace

Join us!
Twitter: @ePals @RitaOates
Rita Oates, PhD ROates@corp.epals.com www.epals.com

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