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Chris Drage recommends an email program for beginners.

2Email. Single user pound;39; five users pound;79; 10 users pound;99; site licence pound;199. 2Simple Software. Tel: 020 8203 1781. Email:

2Email is designed to get children from reception to Year 3 using email in the classroom. It simulates a real email experience on a standalone or a network PC but does not use the internet and therefore is not vulnerable to viruses, spam or pornography.

Embracing reading, composing, attaching, sending and receiving email, 2Email provides key stage 1 children with an otherwise full communication experience. Obviously, being networked will bring the most rewarding and realistic email experience - the programme could be set up over a whole-school network. However, every PC needs to be running the 2Email client software and email accounts have to be set up, so you may need to get this done for you.

With 2Email, children can compose a simple email combining words and pictures. Word banks are available to help with constructing emails and to develop vocabulary. By Year 3, children are encouraged to send messages over distances using email, read and reply to email, send messages, add addresses using an address book and attach files to email. 2Simple email also simulates these activities. Pupils can also send an attachment, which can be a Word document, picture or sound.

Teachers have options to set up their own lessons. They can send group emails to a particular class or year group and then children can reply in various ways. One of the jewels in the 2Email crown is 2Respond. With it, the email experience is simulated and will automatically write replies to children's emails. It also allows teachers to set up whole lessons, where replies are sent automatically as the children work through the activities.

This allows lessons to continue without children waiting for someone to reply to them. Teacher controls allow the monitoring of such messages.

There is also the 2Email Activity Guide which provides many curriculum-linked ideas and is an excellent starting point. Existing email programs are often adult-biased and rarely allow teachers to discuss the concepts behind emailing. Also, existing programs rely on someone (either another individual or school) having the time to reply. With 2Email, young children can email within a totally secure environment. This is an essential resource.

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