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ePals LearningSpace

By Sally Finley - Posted May 1, 2011
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Company: ePals, Inc., 13625-A Dulles Technology Drive, Herndon, VA 20171, (703) 885-3400, Fax: (703) 885-3490, www.epals.com/; sales@corp.epals.com

Price: Contact ePals for pricing.

Audience: Grades K–12 teachers, students, principals, and administrators

System Requirements: A computer with internet access and a subscription to ePals LearningSpace are required for each user.

Description: ePals LearningSpace is a web-based communication and collaboration tool for district and school use.

REPORT CARD
Overall Rating:5 Stars
Installation:A
Content/Features:A
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Reviewer Comments:

Installation/Access: ePals LearningSpace is accessed with a username and password. In­ stallation/Access Rating: A

Content/Features: Digital Lockers: Each user has a safe, online storage area for personal school files including documents, photos, video, and audio. The files can be designated as public or private. Students can upload homework assignments.

SchoolMail: This email feature provides a secure platform that includes instant language translation in 35 languages, virus protection and scanning, anti-spam filters, spell-check, and manuals and tutorials.

Classroom Connect: Groups can share projects using this collaboration space.

Structured Community: Online collaboration provides blogs, forums, media galleries, RSS feeds, contest tagging and pages. The user controls permissions to comment and add content for each group.

ePals Global Community: An online community of K–12 teachers provides collaboration among students and teachers to build and exchange knowledge safely. This feature is accessed through www.epals.com. A full Web 2.0 Toolkit provides the group owner the ability to determine which tools will be provided for the group. These tools include group and individual blogs and a group forum for members to post and comment on a variety of topics. Wiki pages can be edited and tracked by all group members. Members can store and share files related to the group. Students and parents can access homework assignments, rubrics, and other informational material created by the teacher. Tagging allows members to associate keywords within user-generated content making it easy to gain access to needed materials. An RSS feed permits updates of new postings, and changes to content areas enables members to keep up-to-date with all newly published material across the community.

Site Management: Custom policies are set for user interaction and communication. These include role-based permissions, controlled connections, content moderation, and inappropriate language filters. Each user is designated a role within his or her LearningSpace community. Policies can be set to determine whether a user can create groups, view connections, and invite groups to collaborate. Blogs, forum posts, and comments can be reviewed before publishing or removed after publishing by a designated moderator. Multiple spellings of inappropriate words are automatically flagged and removed. LearningSpace regularly updates its security tools.

E-Rate: Funding guidelines are included on this site to provide schools with telecommunication services, internet access, internal connections, and basic maintenance of internal connections.

Classroom Applications: Teachers can create a class homepage for their students to share homework assignments, promote conversations related to unit studies, and use presentations with content. Educators have opportunities to collaborate with peer groups, PTA organizations, and community sources and also to maintain a professional development meeting place. Lesson plans, rubrics, unit studies, resources, and best practices can be shared with others. Authentic learning can be implemented through global communities, sharing cultural exchanges between students as individual or group endeavors. Content/Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: ePals LearningSpace provides a collaborative learning environment that is easy to navigate. An online 30-day trial is available. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: Telephone assistance is available at (703) 885-3400. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: I highly recommend that districts and schools provide ePals LearningSpace opportunities for their educators. This is an excellent program that will allow much-needed collaboration and communication within the global community. Students will definitely enjoy the opportunity to interact with peers around the world. Teachers will be able to network and share with educators. ePals LearningSpace provides a vital service to the educators who want to access the latest resources and tools in order to provide meaningful learning experiences to their students. Highly Recommended.

Reviewer: Sally Finley, educational consultant, Coral Springs, Fla.; sallyfinley1@yahoo.com.


 
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