Sunday, November 9, 2008

To Penzu or Not to Penzu--That Is the Question

I just spent some spent awhile looking at Penzu, an online journal-writing tool Kathy showed us. It has the questionable advantage of being completely private, unless the writer chooses to share, unlike many online tools which are public by default, with the option of being private.

Penzu is low on bells and whistles--not always a bad thing!--and is just what it says--a place to journal online, with the option to add images. No comments, no online communities. It's the virtual equivalent of paper and pencil.

So here's my question: What's the point? I'm no fan of technology for technology's sake, so while Penzu saves some trees, but if you're not worried about that, why not just use a journal, especially since there's no RSS feed, so you'd have to go to each student's site individually.

My larger concern relates back to the Will Richardson workshop I attended earlier, and our necessity to move beyond merely publishing, to engage students in an ongoing dialogue to develop and extend their ideas, making connections both literally and intellectually.

Penzu obviously hinders that process. And while there is a place for "mere" journaling, I wonder if this might not be a better tool for personal, rather than educational use?

Having said that, Kathy said teachers are thrilled by it because they don't have to worry about online privacy issues. Maybe I'm just thinking like a high school teacher, and for younger students this is a good introduction to establishing some sort of online presence?

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