IB Selects ePals To Host Online Learning Community

The International Baccalaureate, a worldwide education program offering advanced study in academics, social skills, and 21st-century globalization skills to secondary school students in more than 130 countries, has announced it will launch an online collaborative learning community. IB also announced that Herndon, VA-based ePals will serve as the community's host. The announcements were made at the 2009 National Educational Computer Conference (NECC) last week in Washington, DC.

The goal of the online community, said IB Director General Jeffrey Beard, is to "create the ideal community and technology platform for ensuring that students and educators at IB World Schools can safely communicate, collaborate and learn with their peers regardless of geographic, cultural or language differences.  In addition to our content, which will be hosted on the site, this new IB hosted learning community will allow our educators and school leaders to connect to exchange, hone and develop best practices."

One of the key components of ePals' online community hosting is the company's own Distributed Learning Platform (DLP). This is the backbone of the technology ePals uses to host full-service online communication and collaboration communities. DLP brings together all of the tools necessary for effective remote collaboration, including forums, blogs, wikis, media sharing, and file storage. In addition, the technology provides online security and user protection via client-customizable monitoring and filtering.

What IB was looking for, explained Larry Roth, ePals' executive vice president of marketing and business development, was an environment that would enable all of its stakeholders in more than 2,600 schools worldwide--students, teachers, parents, alumni--to come together in one place and have all the critical tools available. They needed "not just one-on-one communication," Roth said, "but [the ability] to collaborate and develop curricula, instruction methods, practices, and even internal teaching products together." He added that DLP allows students around the world to work on projects together as if they were in the same room.

The IB online community will undergo beta trials throughout the 2009-2010 academic year, and ePals said it expects full deployment and accessibility to all IB members by July 2010.

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Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.