ePals has announced the launch of the all-new ePals, significantly enhancing its online collaborative capabilities. ePals provides a one-stop learning solution, combining access to local, national and international classroom matching, standards-aligned projects, and private customizable group workspaces. ePals connects more than 800,000 classrooms across 200 countries and reaches over 27 million students, teachers and parents for engaging and rigorous authentic learning experiences, according to the announcement. Projects feature content that address 21st century skills, collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking and writing aligned to state, national and international standards, including the Common Core ELA State Standards.
At the core of the new ePals is its intelligent matching and project creation capabilities. Built to capture a classroom's profile and learning objectives, contextualize the information, and use it to anticipate compatibility across an international network of project-based learning communities, ePals not only maximizes the likelihood of finding the right classroom partners, it helps teachers drive student engagement and get the most out of each collaborative learning opportunity, the announcement states.
New Additions and Enhancements to ePals include:
A Better Way to Match with Classrooms - It's now easier for ePals educators to find and connect with other classrooms for project-based learning focused on literacy, culture, science and other standards-aligned topics.
- MatchSense - automatically recommends classroom partners and projects based on member profiles, goals and interests, and displays a dynamic list of recommended partners on the member's homepage
- Dynamic Search - allows educators to find classrooms based on their choice of specific interests (e.g. poetry, water conservation), language, geographic location, age/skill levels, and number of students, collaboration goals and project duration
- Collaboration Tables - ePals members can find or create a project for teaching a subject of their choosing, and invite others to join, within their own classroom, with parents, across a grade, with a partner classroom or including whole groups of classrooms
Upgraded Suite of Collaborative Tools - provide educators with safe, private, customizable Web 2.0 workspaces for each of their projects.
Each workspace includes a blog, media gallery and discussion forum - accessible only to the educators and students invited to be part of that group. As a complement to ePals' policy managed email service, SchoolMail, the collaboration tables provide a safe way for students in different classrooms, locally or across the world, to share their experiences, ideas, and resources.
Expanded, Easy-To-Browse Project Library - where ePals members can search, discover and create new projects.
- The Project Library, continually enhanced by teacher-contributed projects, showcases outstandingprojects from leading content partners and members
- Projects are classroom-ready, and uniquely designed for online collaboration including instructional plans, culminating activities, and related resources
- A unique template-driven structure lets teachers easily adopt projects and customize them for their own uses, or create their own from scratch
- Featured projects include National Geographic's "The Way We Are," "Poetic Social Mission," presented by ONE DROP and "Avoiding the Path to Panem," ePals newest featured project presented by Educurious, and based on the popularHunger Gamestrilogy
Rich, Multi-Disciplinary Student-Centric Learning Centers - ePals' new Learning Centers are designed to encourage independent student learning and feature standards-aligned content, activities, multimedia, and teacher resources.
Featured Learning Centers currently include:
- Smithsonian on ePals- Featured exhibits and learning activities from one ofthe world's mostrespected museum and research complexes
- The Creative Writing Center- Tips, galleries and prompts to inspire creative writing
- We Are ePalsCenter - Where members share and celebrate their unique cultures
- Global Citizens- Member stories about how kids helps others in their communities and across the world
- The ScienceCenter - Where students and teachers can find experiments, articles and activities
- In2BooksBook Club- A place for students to chat about books, publish book reviews and explore genres
Learning Centers include interdisciplinary explorations of a shared topic or theme. The first featured exploration is "The Perfect Storm: An Adventure Through the World of Wild Weather" showcasing a variety of weather-related projects, articles, and activities from National Geographic, the Smithsonian, and Cobblestone & Cricket, two of ePals' award winning children's magazines. For a limited time, ePals members can download "The Perfect Storm," a free digital compilation of six award-winning Cobblestone & Cricket magazines, to explore weather, natural hazards and more.
Game Center - ePals' Game Room provides a safe place for students around the world to match and learn together through, multi-player games that build strategy and logic skills, with an initial offering that includes games such as Cobblestone & Cricket'sBuild a Machine and Spider Match, Scientists at Work, Chess, and Sudoku.
Source: ePals Corporation, www.epals.com