Thursday, March 18, 2010

Promote Student Passions with Pencasting!

Today Marc Prensky and I worked with students and teachers to partner to innovate instruction. The pedagogy is based on Prensky's new book, "Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning." The premise in part is that 21st century teachers don't have to be experts in using technology, we have the kids for that, but they do need to partner with their digital native students to allow them to use technology to learn in innovative ways. In order to do this we we invited students to partner with teachers in thinking about how to make instruction engaging. We had a variety of technologies for teachers and students to explore and teachers and students wrote proposals and videos explaining what they were doing.

One of the technologies showcased was smart pens. A smart pen allows you to connect voice, music, and sound to anything you write on smart paper. With smart pens the power of having students in the professional development really came to life. While many teachers first thought, "Wow, this is great because students can record notes when I lecture!," the students had other ideas for the device.

Georgiano, the student in the below video, sees using the smart pen as a tool to capture student passions. His idea is for students to sketch their passion making a pencast about what inspires them. He explains that if all students sketched their passions these could be collected into a collage of pencasts that can be enjoyed by all. Here's how it would work. The student would sketch their passion and then record music, sound, and voice to go along with the sketch. Live viewers could tap on each students sketch to learn about the passions of each student. Virtual viewers could click a link that enables them to see and hear each students pencast, so that as this student shares, "The whole world that pen allows you to draw, then record as a part of the drawing music, sound, and voice which you can hear by tapping on the paper. The pencasts can be shared via a link and published so that as this student shares (time 1.43), "It is amazing. We can present to everyone in the world and show our passions!"

Promote Student Passions with Pencasting! from Ted 21C on Vimeo.

You can see what other classes are doing at the Livescribe smart pen website. The smart pens sell for $139 each.


  1. The kid in the video is great. The idea of turning to the kids for their ideas regarding how technology can enhance their education is also great; I know that the Gen Y project has been doing this for quite a while, as well as other orgs and people. the MIT Media Lab's motto is 'Lifelong Kindergarten' - probably a good motto for schools to adopt.

  2. I Love the term 'Lifelong Kindergarten'. That's what I felt like the 1st time I used this pen. I wish more schools would use these because the applications are unlimited. It's all about trying something new and making it work for you. Sometimes it's not what you want but at least you've explored and that's what kindergartners do.

  3. @Rick, what are your favorite ways of using the pen?

  4. Really love this video! The student so eloquently explains how technology can effectively be used to share one's passions with others. This was a great PD. I really like the idea of "partnering with students" and look forward to including students in our future PD sessions.