Collaborative learning with Pen.io

Being able to create and share content is one of the main advantages Web 2.0 technologies offer educators and learners alike. Pen.io is a writing tool that simplifies this process and allows you and your students to create and maintain a work portfolio that can be published and shared on the web

Being able to create and share content is one of the main advantages Web 2.0 technologies offer educators and learners alike. Pen.io is a writing tool that simplifies this process and allows you and your students to create and maintain a work portfolio that can be published and shared on the web.

My 6th Form (17 year olds) Spanish students and I were looking for a way in which they could build a portfolio of research on one of the main topics of the A2 course (the final school year before University) that they could then publish, share and, importantly in my view, own.

Having considered other very useful tools for this purpose such as Google Docs, we decided to use Pen.io because of its simplicity: it employs a basic, clutter free interface which results in a simple web page which is content-focused, free of the usual internet distractions.

As was already mention above, ownership of the content was an important consideration for us. Pen.io allows users to customise their own URL (web address) to reflect either the author’s name, the topic about which they are writing or indeed anything at all. My students were really proud that they were able to create their own web pages to showcase their work.

The task

I tasked my students with researching, writing and publishing three essays on the Transition to Democracy period in Spain’s recent history. My students shared their passwords with me so that I could add corrections and AfL commentary. On this occasion the students did not share passwords with one another, although you can easily see how this could have easily been used as a collaborative writing tool if they had.

The collaboration in our specific task stems from the fact that my students could all see what each other had written. When students learn from one another, I often find, is one of the deepest forms of learning.

We also projected draft essays in Pen.io on the interactive whiteboard, highlighting corrections to be made and further exploiting grammatical structures and vocabulary.

The final product, having researched the required topics, studied the necessary grammatical structures and perfected the vocabulary necessary to turn ideas into a sophisticated piece of writing in Spanish, is a simple yet compelling web page that can be shared, not only with current students, but also with future ones.

Here are some examples of the work my students produced:

What do you think of Pen.io? How would you use it?

Your comment is always very much appreciated.

José Picardo

José is Assistant Principal at Surbiton High School and a Fellow of the RSA and Naace. He is interested in improving education and the way technology can be used to enhance and transform teaching and learning. José has been curating Box of Tricks since 2007 and holds a MA in ICT and Education.

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  • Anthony Feint

    I’m so glad to see Pen.io getting used more and more in the classroom. At Pen.io, we aim to create a distraction free environment for students to create and share work – let us know if we can do anything better.

    • http://www.josepicardo.com José Picardo

      I really think Pen.io can be enormously useful to our students for the reasons you mentioned. Congratulations on having created such a fantastic free tool.

      Many thanks for dropping by :-)

  • Or

    Is it possible to type from right to left in pen.io?

  • http://twitter.com/emilyhuff717 Emily Huff

    Love the simplicity of Pen.io. Did you have any problems with the document updating when you would log-in to a student’s document to edit/look at it? I want to do a collaborative writing assignment soon but it would require some real-time updating and I’m not sure Pen.io will work with that. I’d rather not use Google Docs because I like the ownership that Pen.io gives the students. Maybe I’ll just have them share one computer.

    • http://www.josepicardo.com José Picardo

      HI Emily, thanks for your comment. I’m afraid I’ve never had that problem with Pen.io. Perhaps, Anthony Feint – who’s commented on this thread – or someone else from Pen.io’s support might be able to help you if it is a technical problem. However, if your looking for alternatives to Google Docs for real-time updating, perhaps you could consider using http://titanpad.com – Hope that helps!

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