I wrote a while ago about trying to use the original Penzu in DET Primary. Unfortunately, following PD with teachers it was blocked and didn’t get un-blocked, so we did something else.
Never the less, I would like to continue to rave about Penzu – and now Penzu 2, where they are worked the API to allow it do even more clever things.
Penzu is very very simple. It looks like paper and lets kids write entries in a journal without getting all pretty-minded about their avatar or profile. Its point and shoot writing for many purposes.
By default the work is private. This is something I am beginning to favour in learning. It should be the creator who chooses when to share with the teacher, and not actually work in a fish-bowl all the time. Comment happy teachers can be a little off-putting to some students. It autosaves their work – getting kids to save their work to a place where they might find it again is often very problematic. Pictures can be added via Flickr and entries kicked to Twitter.
What I really like however is the privacy considerations for the learner. Their work is private until they are ready to share. They can then share with their teacher or peers via an email invitation. They are very much in control of the process. Glass-bowl writing can be very intimidating for students – even under-grads wince at the idea of wiki-fied learning. It teaches students to take greater responsibility to take care of their work, and to ask questions. Personally I like to keep my work under semi-wraps as I produce it. I do ask questions and discuss elements, but the body of work I prefer to compile in a degree of privacy.
Penzu have done a fantastic job here, as comments can only start to happen once an entry has been shared. With search, file management and deletion – this seems like a great way of giving students very simple writing tools and application management with their teacher.
Few student productions are so glam that they demand the constant power of more sophisticated blog-engines. When we think about stock-ICT activities, Penzu easily facilitates – and puts the learner in control and re-balancing the huge transfer or personal-space in Web2.0 classrooms – where the teacher becomes the all seeing eye – even out of school.
Penzu cuts out bloat-ware and overkill-ware, that often serves to distract students. Penzu 2 is bang on the money. For a tiny fee you can get even more features!