Review by Jason Shiroff, Common Sense Education | Updated August 2017

ePals

Kids learn together in well-rounded, collaborative global classroom

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Teachers say (4 Reviews)
$avg_user_learning_rating
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Grades
4-7 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: The site provides access to students around the world, a safe way to communicate, and customizable learning experiences.

Cons: Establishing common goals and lesson plans with a collaborating classroom can be a challenge.

Bottom Line: A safe communication system and excellent learning materials help create a global youth community.

After setting up a classroom, you can connect your students to pen pals and high-quality learning experiences. Many of the experiences are from partners such as the Smithsonian Institute and McGraw-Hill. Teachers can also draft their own learning experience to bring classrooms together from around the world.

The site has incorporated several safety measures to create a moderated communication platform. To ensure legitimate educators are using ePals, site administrators review new members before they're approved and before they can interact with other users.

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ePals is a website that connects K-12 classrooms in more than 99 countries to share content and ideas and collaborate on projects (including pen pal exchanges). Teachers create a profile with a brief description about who they're hoping to connect with and why; for example, a third-grade class that would like to meet French-speaking students to collaborate on a global green living project. Teachers can search for partner classrooms by language, age, and keyword, and can also factor in region/country and class size. The system will also recommend classrooms. Once connected, classes can communicate through a private workspace on the site.

Educators can apply safety filters to each student in their virtual classroom. They can choose to moderate all student messages before they're sent, to receive copies of all messages once they're delivered, or just moderate messages that contain flagged content, or opt for open communication with no teacher moderation. Teachers can also access lesson plan ideas and other resources on the site.

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Creating a safe space for kids across the world to communicate and collaborate, ePals is a really neat idea that works. In addition to its collaborative nature, the site offers a significant amount of quality content. Kids can share ideas and success stories about trying to change the world, create inventions, practice their new language skills, and learn about topics such as poverty.

Kids can also express themselves on ePals by sharing their thinking with pen pals and adding video, images, and files to discussion boards. Other activities encourage kids to write and learn about different cultures. It's well-rounded content for kids, and there's a lot for teachers to explore, as well.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

When classrooms share common goals, these engaging experiences and opportunities to connect with kids all over the world make this a fun learning experience.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Kids can explore geography, science, and more, and express themselves by contributing original content. They'll work together on projects to learn about language, culture, and other topics.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

A help center contains videos and basics on site usage, with tips on topics like student collaboration. The teacher guide helps get you set up quickly.


Common Sense Reviewer
Jason Shiroff Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Susan G. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Van Wyck Junior High School
Wappingers Falls, NY
5
Exciting for my students to communicate with other students around the world!

Setting up classes is time consuming but once they are in you are good to go. Finding classes to work with can also be time consuming and frustrating but once you connect it is so worth how excited your classes become. Students are anxious to write and share with their ePals.

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