Empatico is a digital video-based platform that allows teachers and students to connect, class-to-class, with others across the globe.
The idea is to create a space in which groups can meet from across the planet to share experiences, ideas, and learning. The platform makes this as simple as possible, with multimedia connection options.
Crucially, there are also activities that can be done using Empatico that allow the groups to collaborate and work together, even with the barriers of distance and language that would otherwise stop this from being possible.
This guide lays out how Empatico works so you can decide if it could serve your class.
What is Empatico?
Empatico presumably comes from the combination of the words 'empathy' and 'simpatico' combining to create just that, a platform that allows students to get along, feel empathy, and understand one another.
At its most basic this is a digital meeting planning platform that allows for video chat between groups in various locations. But it offers a lot more depth, which makes it specifically ideal for classroom use.
For one thing, it's run through the teachers, who can communicate by sending messages, videos, images, or having video calls -- allowing it to be as immersive or supplementary to a lesson as needed.
Empatico also features a library of activities so that the groups can find a common task to work on together, within the platform if needed. That said, it can simply be used to connect and then the teachers can lead the students on to whatever activities they see fit.
How does Empatico work?
Empatico firstly requires teachers to sign up and create an account, including information about the student's ages, location, availability and main classroom language used. This can be English, Spanish or both, for example. You're then ready to seek a match for a meeting.
The app will search for a match, you wait, then a notification will be sent to alert you to a match. Teachers can then message one another, share media, or connect over video to bring the class groups together.
While this does sound like you can simply go online whenever and hope for a match, this might not be possible at that specific time. So it is ideal to pre-arrange a time to meet with the other teacher if possible.
The Empatico system is all about creating empathy between groups so within the library of activities are plenty that focus on doing exactly that. This involves sharing thoughts, emotions and carrying out actions as a joined group.
Since a lot of the activities can be prepared before, allowing students to know what to expect, this can be a time-focused task that fits into lessons nicely. Plenty of follow-up activities help continue the learning process in the physical classroom after the call has ended.
What are the best Empatico features?
Empatico allows you to record the sessions, which can mean a follow-up class that looks at what went on and how progress can be made. Usefully, you can continue with the same class regularly to build rapport, or move on to new classes and explore the world, as required.
Empatico offers a library of activities, both ones to do when the two classes are together and more beyond that too. Daily practices, activities for the class, and even exchange options to use with other platforms are available. You might want to integrate a Google Slides setup or something from your Flip system to add a bit of familiarity for the kids.
Since there are more than 23,000 educators in 131 countries, it should be easy enough to find a match and link classrooms, with plenty to do once you get going. Assessment is lacking though, and should be planned around accordingly to get the most out of this system.
Empatico prides itself on working to connect students with nine important skills -- its Empathy Framework -- which breaks down into three sections comprising three traits in each:
- Emotional Recognition
- Perspective taking
How much does Empatico cost?
Empatico is totally free to sign-up for and to use. You will need a decent enough internet connection to support video as well as a good camera, microphone, and speaker setup to cover the whole class for clear communication.
Since this is built for students it is safe, won't contain ads, and is also easy to use.
You can make donations to Empatico, which is a non-profit organization that relies on support from partners, funders, and advocates.
The Empatico website says: "A 2015 study by the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education at Columbia University’s Teachers College found that for every dollar schools spent on social-emotional learning programs, $11 in economic benefits are returned to society."
Empatico best tips and tricks
Use the library
The easiest way to work together on SEL, emotional learning, and empathic understanding is to use the framework and tools already in the app.
It can help to discuss what happened after the meeting to help students reflect on their behavior, that of others, and the meanings or consequences of those actions.
Use your own apps and lesson plans to create a space in which the groups can focus and collaborate together -- ideal in early sessions when getting to know one another.