Collaboration & Communications
Microsoft and ePals are partnering to expand the collaboration and communications tools available to educators and students through the ePals Global Community, an educational networking platform.
Through the partnership, Microsoft's [email protected] service will be offered to ePals users, providing e-mail and calendaring features and, further down the road, bringing Microsoft's hosted apps to the platform, along with some of the feature's from the Microsoft Office SharePoint Online hosted collaboration suite.
ePals Global Community is a K-12 learning network that reaches about 600,000 educators and roughly 25 million students and parents worldwide, offering collaboration tools and social networking capabilities, along with a mail service designed specifically for K-12 environments.
[email protected] is Microsoft's free portal, communications, and collaboration suite for education. The cross-platform service provides a range of hosted solutions for education institutions, including mail (with 10 GB per user), Windows Live SkyDrive storage (25 GB), and Office Live Workspace collaboration and document sharing. According to Microsoft, [email protected] is now in use by more than 9 million students in 10,000 schools in 130 countries.
As part of the arrangement, the ePals mail system (called "SchoolMail") will be expanded to include [email protected] mail features.
"[email protected] will bring additional capabilities to ePals' SchoolMail and other products, delivering advanced communication and collaboration capabilities to the solution, such as a familiar Outlook interface across the PC, phone and browser, accessibility features, cross-mailbox search, and dynamic distribution groups," according to information released b the companies Thursday. "From an IT perspective, the solution will allow schools to set up sophisticated policy-based controls that regulate which students and teachers can e-mail and share information with each other for security purposes, and what level of filtering and monitoring is desired for sent and received e-mail, including for inappropriate language. Rules also can be applied for instructional value as well, and help facilitate peer-based editing and feedback features."
According to an ePals spokesperson, the first fruits of the partnership will appear later this year globally. Specifically, e-mail and calendaring features will be added first, followed later by the integration of Microsoft Office Web-based applications and some features of SharePoint Online.
Further information about ePals can be found here.