Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Global Connections on Chromebooks with ePals

One of the absolute best tools I've encountered over the years to increase global awareness and collaboration across the world is ePals (located at

"ePals" are what the name implies - Electronic Pen Pals.  But the service offers so much more (and all free!).  With ePals, you can connect with classrooms from over 200 countries all over the world, whose students speak 136 different languages and range in age from preschool to college age.  

Once you're logged in as a teacher and have completed your class profile, you can easily search for and connect with classes through an intuitive process.  As you can see, it's very easy to narrow down your search so you can start looking at profiles that fit your classroom's exact needs. 

The three types of collaboration that are available are simple email exchanges (like a traditional pen pal), video chats, and collaborative project work spaces.  These three can certainly be combined as you grow more comfortable with your ePals.

A sample profile

Each classroom profile is created by the teacher and explains the types of connections they are hoping to make.

Finally, another great service that ePals provides are message forums for teachers and students alike.  Here, students can pose and answer questions to the global community that are interesting or relevant to their lives. Here, you'll see students from all over the world discuss things like their favorite foods, favorite books, favorite movies, as well as globally important issues such as gun control, women's roles, and cloning. It's great to see students read through and contribute their own thoughts and ideas about topics that are highly relevant to their lives.  It can be quite an eye-opener for many students who may otherwise never get an opportunity to communicate with kids their age from around the globe.

Here's to hoping you take the dive and expose your students to the global community in a way that is very accessible and "real."  Try ePals!

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