Rita Oates, PhD
  • Miami, FL
  • United States
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Work / School Affiliation:
ePals Inc.
About Me:
Student collaboration and authentic voices have been part of my educational strategies since I started teaching, using whatever appropriate technology I could find.

Along the way I have have wonderful experiences at the cutting edge of development in the online world. Before there was an Internet, I was education editor at VIEWTRON, the first online service in the U.S. with color and graphics. I also helped develop online content for writing classes for students through PLATO at Indiana University, where I also learned a great deal about instructional systems design. I was at the first NECC as a young grad student.

For almost 8 years I led the ed tech office at Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the nation's fourth largest district. There we pioneered use of interactive technologies with ELL students through a co-development project with Jostens Learning Corp., who matched the $5 million provided by the Florida Dept. of Education. We had computer take-home programs in Title I with fabulous results. After Hurricane Andrew, I co-authored a FIPSE grant for professional development that had tremendous impact on teachers, Project Infusion, through a site-based model of tech planning.

Today, as a VP at ePals, the social learning network, I get to help teachers and students discover powerful ways to collaborate on global project-based learning and simple pen pal exchanges. With almost 28 million users in 200 countries and territories, we provide many opportunities for teachers to join existing projects or create their own powerful connections. It's great to tell teachers and school districts about something free with powerful outcomes. As a technology company, we also have developed K12 communication platforms and tools "beyond Facebook and Google" that encourage student learning while preserving student safety and privacy. International Baccalaureate chose ePals LearningSpace over all other options for this reason, to built out an enterprise-grade online community in 140 countries with more than 1 million users. See http://bit.ly/IBvideo

As an ed tech consultant for many years, I worked with schools and school districts in designing visionary ed tech plans, professional development programs, and parent outreach through technology. This included many schools and districts in Florida and the southeast and even working with the Ministry of Education in the United Arab Emirates in fall 2006. I also was editor of the Heller Report, Internet Strategies for Education Markets, as the Internet first came into education in the 1990s.

I've written 10 books and more than 100 articles about technology in education, including one on professional development in technology published by NSBA and several that survey the state of ed tech in education for MDR.

My first job was a high school language arts and journalism teacher a rural district in Kansas, where my students produced a page in the local newspaper each week, along with their own newspaper in the school. I also taught in an experimental high school in Kansas City, Kansas, and in Shawnee Mission. And for a year, I worked at Phi Delta Kappa, the education society, a terrific think tank of the leaders in educational thought.

I have two degrees from the University of Kansas, was editor of the award-winning college newspaper, and two graduate degrees from Indiana University. My doctoral majors were Educational applications of print, broadcast and computer-based media and Public policy.
I love to travel internationally and encourage development of global citizens. I'm a former PTSA president too!
Twitter Account:
Other Account:
Skype: rita_oates

Webinar: ePals 101

Come to a one-hour free webinar to learn how to join the ePals Global Community and find partners for your classroom or students. Also, sign up your students for safe and protected ePals SchoolMail, featuring TRUSTe certification of child privacy. SchoolMail365 was released Feb. 2 and is 100% erateable. It was chosen by NYC Dept. of Ed. to be used by all NYC teachers, students and parents, with translation to 58 languages.

Use these tools with your K12 students and add authentic communication to learning.

Also see the free teacher and student forums, projects created by ePals and by ePals members. See ePals Pages contributed by the Smithsonian Institution, Common Sense Media, SnagFilms, IRA, Microsoft Partners in Learning, and others, all free.

View student work in the ePals Student Media Gallery: http://bit.ly/StMedia Items here are viewed by 27 million individuals monthly and vetted before posting for K12 appropriate content.

Join the largest and fastest growing global community of K12 learners, with 700,000 classrooms in 200 countries!

RSVP at http://epals.101.sgizmo.com or email me roates at corp.epals.com.

Here are the next scheduled webinars:

* Mon., June 13 at 3:15 pm ET  (2:15 pm CT, 12:15 pm PT)

* Wed., June 22 at at 4:15 pm ET (3:15 pm CT, 1:15 pm PT)

* Or visit us at the ISTE conference June 27-29!

If you want to learn on your own, go to: http://bit.ly/learnePals

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At 8:32pm on June 3, 2011, Heidi Renk said…

Thank you, Rita.  I am a member of ePals, and I tried to use it this past year, but with not much success.  I had a very busy year, so I am hoping to have more time with it this upcoming year. I would love my students to become connected with students in different countries.


Heidi Renk


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