Maine Ed Dept. Partners To Deliver Online Learning Tools to Students Statewide


The Maine Department of Education has partnered with ePals, a Herndon, VA-based education technology solutions provider, to launch "Maine Connects," a statewide online system to connect students and offer learning tools in a safe and reliable environment.

Through "Maine Connects," students will be able to access, free of charge, ePals' SchoolM@il to send and receive e-mail. The SchoolM@il system offers a higher level of safety monitoring and filtering than standard e-mails providers, offering teachers and administrators services such as monitored mail, virus checking, and anti-spam filters.

In addition, the program offers access to several other communication and learning tools. ePals' SchoolBlog, for example, is a Web-based platform that allows students and teachers to share and discuss educational goals, interests, school and class projects, and even day-to-day happenings in the school community, and it empowers users to reach out to students in cultures throughout the world to share and compare what they are learning and what they hope to achieve in the long term. Also accessible through the program is In2Books, which allows collaborative learning through literature to build reading, writing and critical thinking skills.

Finally, the partnership has launched a dedicated portal to give users access to these and other collaborative education tools. Current projects being pursued through Maine Connects include "Learn Math with Kites Around the World," "6th Graders Connect with Russia," and online classrooms covering anthropology, geography, ecology, and global warming.

"Our goal is to provide students with access to the technology and content they need to build strong 21st century skills," said Jeff Mao, learning technology policy director for the Maine Department of Education.  "We have been able to provide our students and educators with access to a variety of technologies and tools to supplement the curriculum." Mao added that "Maine Connects" provides ways to expand the offerings of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) and state's 1:1 laptop initiative, with the goal of giving every student his/her own portable computer for digital learning and building 21st-century technology skills.

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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.