Welcome to PenPal Schools!
A little about ourselves
PenPal Schools connects over 100,000 students in 170 countries to learn together. PenPals ages 8 and up collaborate through free high-quality online courses to learn about cultures and global challenges while practicing language and technology skills. Weekly lessons can be completed at any time from any device to easily fit into busy class schedules. Preview one of our courses.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How much does PenPal Schools cost?
PenPal Schools is free for all teachers! We're able to offer PenPal Schools for free thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. Beginning in Summer 2017 we will also offer premium assessment features for teachers and administrators to access detailed reports on student learning along with personalized recommendations for individual growth. You can learn more about upcoming assessment features here.
2. How old are PenPals?
PenPal Schools provides a variety of collaborative learning experiences for students from ages 8 to 18 (students are always matched with PenPals within two years of their own age). Some courses are designed specifically for younger students and English-language learners, and each course is offered at three different difficulty levels to support learners with a wide range of abilities. You can preview any course to pick the level that’s best for your students.
3. How does matching work?
PenPal Schools connects each student with a group of 3-4 PenPals for a 6-week exchange. Teachers do not need to do PenPal matching, we take care of that for you! We connect students based on age (within two years), geography, ability, engagement, and the course selected by their teacher/facilitator. We do best to connect students from a different countries and background. Unfortunately we cannot accommodate special matching requests. You can learn more about PenPal matching here.
4. How long does it take to get connected with PenPals?
Students are connected with their PenPals on day that the course begins so that they can start collaborating immediately. Courses begin every other Monday, so you can choose the dates that work best for your class. Just make sure your students complete their profiles and the intro lesson before Matching Day so that we can connect them with PenPals! You can learn more details on this process by selecting a course to view the syllabus.
5. What should I do if my students join late or do not have a PenPal after our Match Date?
Please ensure students are signed up and complete their profiles before your class Matching Day. If students join or complete their profiles after the Matching Day please allow 48 hours for those students to be connected with PenPals. If students do not receive PenPals after 48 hours please contact our team at email@example.com and we'll match them with PenPals.
6. Can I request a specific PenPals to be connected with?
As of now we cannot accept requests. In the future teachers will be able to request that their students be connected with PenPals from a specific country or region.
7. How do courses work?
Once a teacher signs up and students are connected with PenPals the course begins. When the course begins:
8. How are students kept safe? As a teacher, will I be able to monitor my students’ exchanges?
Students are not required to provide personal information such as last names, addresses, emails, or phone numbers. PenPal Schools verifies the identity of all teachers to ensure that students are connected with real students of their same age. Teachers/education facilitators invite students directly and can review everything written by their students and their PenPals. The PenPal Schools team also monitors all exchanges. Because we take the safety of our students very seriously, our support team is always available to help resolve any safety issues. Please see our Student Safety Protocol guide for more.
9. What technology/internet access is required?
Students can participate using any device with internet access. Students need internet access at least once per week for a minimum of 30 minutes. Lessons can be completed at any time during the week - lessons are asynchronous and text-based to accommodate low-speed and unstable connections.
10. When can I start my PenPal exchange?
You can start your PenPal exchange immediately upon signing up, or you can specify a future start date.
11. How can I change the start date for my course?
Teachers can change course start date via the Teacher Dashboard. To change the course start date log into your account and click the "Match Date" to select another start date. For questions or assistance please email firstname.lastname@example.org
12. Is my username the same as my email address?
No, username and email address are not interchangeable! Please make sure to remember your username.
13. Where can I find resources to help me get started?
The PenPal Schools blog is a great place to find high quality resources for educators and students. Check out our Get Started guides for both teachers and students in the Official Teacher Resource Kit. Or learn about how classrooms around the world are using PenPal Schools from our Teacher Ambassadors.
14. What should I do if my student forgets his/her username or password?
If a student forgets his or her password, educators can change a student’s password right from the teacher dashboard. If a teacher or an individual user entered and e-mail address when creating their account, he or she can request a new password from our log-in screen. If a student forgets his/her username, please email email@example.com.
15. What if my student is connected with a PenPal who does not write back?
We connect students in PenPal groups to provide the most engaging experience possible. If one PenPal in a group does not write back your student can still have a great exchange with his/her other PenPals! In the rare event your student's entire PenPal group is unresponsive you may contact our Support Team and we will connect your student with a new group.
16. What should I do if a school break falls during our PenPal Schools course?
If students will be on a break during their PenPal exchange we suggest they let their PenPals know. Students can then make up the lesson when they return from break or skip ahead and complete the lesson before going on break.
Do you have more questions? Send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org