ePals provides an online classroom-matching and collaboration service, where students in different schools, states, or countries can work together on projects in private, customizable group workspaces. With ePals, you could start your own project, or you could choose from the library of existing projects ePals provides.
I explored several of ePals existing projects. Two Classes in Hollywood, CA, USA Seek International ePals Partners is a project in which a group of 14 public school kids in 6th grade located in Hollywood, California, USA would like to exchange opinions, ideas, and the general culture and events with partners around the world. I like this project because it enhances both students’ writing skills, but also students’ cultural understanding. Another type of project I explored is the language-learning type, for example, French Teensseek English Email Exchange, German Students Seek Email Exchange withAustralians, Seeking Japanese Speakers forEmail Exchange and so on. All these projects are used by foreign-language learning students who intend to improve their language skills by exchanging emails with native language speakers. Topics could range from culture and history to daily life.
Other features available in ePals are LEARN 365sm and in2books. LEARN 365sm includes ePals SchoolMail, a unique K12 email solution with fully customizable communication policies and permissions and ePals learningSpace, an online learning platform that enables educators to differentiate instruction, manage classroom activities, preserve a legacy of students and facilitate collaboration around the educational content. In2books is ePal's curriculum-based e-mentoring program for students in grades 3-5. It matches students with adult pen-pals who read the same books and exchange teacher-supervised, online letters about the books.
In2books will be a great tool for students to practice their writing skills. Besides, it allows students to choose the book by themselves under the category listed by the teacher. This will build up students’ responsibility and interest once they make a choice and embark on their reading journey. The teacher-supervision function offered by In2books makes it easier for teach to monitor and control the whole situation. Personally, I would like to use In2books for summer and winter vocations. Summer and winter vocations are usually great time for students to read several books as they have plenty of time by themselves. Usually, teachers would designate several books for students to read and at the end of the vocation, students will be asked to hand in a reflection paper, which is the traditional way to evaluate students’ reading. This traditional reading and evaluation mode is very ineffective as teachers have nothing to do with the reading process and couldn’t provide timely help to students if they ever encounter any difficulty during their reading. With in2books, all these problems could be solved. The selection of their own books to read and the exchange of letters with pen pals make the whole reading task much more interesting. And the monitoring function would keep teachers informed of students’ situation at all times.