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E-PALS: An Email Exchange Program for Students with Autism

Students at Appalachian State University (NC) are participating in an online pen pal exchange with students in the Inclusion Program at Highland Park Junior High School (MN). This online program, informally called “e-PALS,” helps students with disabilities communicate with college students. The e-PALS program teaches students how to formally structure their letters and uses a range of assistive technology devices and tools to assist with communication.

Created by Barbara Wollak of Highland Park Junior High (MN) and Dr. David Koppenhaver of Applachian State University (NC), this email exchange program for students with autism and learning disabilities uses email, video email, blogging, and Co:Writer. Co:Writer is a word prediction assistive technology tool which supports writing activity in any word processed document, such as an electronic greeting card or email.

Students at Appalachian University and parents of the students at the Highland Park Inclusion Program also contribute to a blog called “Virtual Authors.” Mrs. Wollak posts a new topic each week related to current events or student interests. The blog provides additional opportunities for authentic reading and writing and question-answer relationships. Students take turns generating questions and creating posts on the blog. This e-learning exchange encourages students learn about the interests and literacy skills of adolescents with disabilities. They discover how using Web 2.0 tools and assistive technologies in real-life interactions helps students learn.

To view the “Virtual Authors” blog, go to: http://www.hpjh.blogspot.com

For more information on E-Pals and to read the full article, visit: Online Pen Program Uses Assistive Technology

For more information on Co:Writer, visit the website at: http://www.donjohnston.com/products/cowriter/index.html

 

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