Please pardon any cross-postings as I debated where this would best fall.
We are looking into having some of our teachers explore collaborating/communicating with students in other parts of the U.S. and in other countries. We do not have student email accounts, but I'm looking at either ePals or Gaggle. Has anyone either done a direct comparison of the two services or seen one published somewhere? We'd like to make an informed decision, and I would love to see a one-to-one comparison.

I would greatly appreciate any discussion or feedback on using either of these programs, whether good or bad. Any suggestions (or warnings) will be welcomed!

Thank you!!

Tags: Gaggle, ePals, student email

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I would have loved to use epals! I was already to go and my school denied us access to the site.

They said we should just write letters by hand!
I have heard great things about gaggle.net. They have been around for years doing emails with students. They sound tried and true!
ePals offers a global community. If you want to find a classroom in Sweden or Sudan, Chile or China or Canada, you can search on the country, age, and even particular topics of collaboration through ePals. (Gaggle does not have an integrated global community.)

ePals and Gaggle both have email and blog tools for student collaboration. These are free from ePals since fall 2007. Gaggle has both free and paid versions.

One big difference is that ePals has TRUSTe certification. See www.truste.com This is an independent group that certifies privacy of information of students. It's a very high standard, one that district security staffers look for. (You can see it on the bottom of the page of any site that has it. Not all education sites do.)

Another issue with school email accounts is how can you get a copy of the email, if one student is suspected of writing a bullying email? With gmail accounts, you would need to get a court order to get a copy of that email. With ePals SchoolMail, you can get the suspected email within an hour.

Finally, you need to consider things like "dirty word" filters and teacher monitoring of student work in school. Do teachers have the option to preview email before it goes to or from a student? Can they keep a copy of all student emails on a project so they can use these for alternative assessment?

ePals was the first email system to have embedded language translation, offered in 2000 after a teacher suggested adding it. Today 35 languages are available.

Each system has its benefits. ePals has the most worlwide users and has been around more than 13 years.

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