A New Online School Learning Community

just heard about a new online learning community – available gratis to secondary and middle schools outside the UK (and for a small fee within).

Rafi.ki is a not-for-profit online community designed just for schools, currently secondary and middle schools. It uses cutting edge yet simple to use technology funded by the DfES, DfID and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, to enable schools to work with each other simply and effectively across the world. Rafi.ki contains a built in communications centre which allows for a number of different methods of asynchronous and synchronous communication. Each of which can be switched on and off depending on the needs of the school. Features contained within the communications centre include:

  1. Instant messaging – this is a tool for synchronous (real-time) communication which users can use to find and communicate with other users online
  2. Video conferencing – a tool which can be used for video conferencing using a PC and a basic web camera and microphone
  3. Audio conferencing – a conferencing tool which can be used where video is not available
  4. Email – internal, secure email system which can be used for asynchronous communication between users
  5. Forums – online discussion forums which can be created by teachers to discuss work and other issues
  6. Blogs – a drag and drop design tool which pupils can use to create media-rich and engaging web-logs and other web-pages

The community provides online synchronous and asynchronous support, hosted educational projects, aid in global twinning between schools and classes, an intuitive, robust, easy to learn interface. The environment provides various levels of authorization and supervision for students and teachers.

I have been playing around with it for a few days and am thinking of using it for hosting a collaborative project with a school in the USA. It seems like a lot of fun with much potential for supporting learning. I think it pays to have a look see by registering and playing around with it. It might be right for some global projects that you are thinking about.

( I have no affiliation with the site's sponsors or operators other than my expressed interest in giving it a test run to check it's suitability for our school's needs.)

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