Pencast Videos

What is it?

A pencast is a video that focuses on a canvas that is marked-up as the video progresses. As the instructor marks the canvas, they narrate their actions. Typically, the instructor is not visible in a pencast video, but their voice can be heard.

​Why should I do it?

There are three primary reasons to create a talking head video:​

Instructor Presence

Instructor presence is an educator's ubiquity in a classroom via three modalities: cognitive, social, and teaching. At times, the lack of a physical space can make the online classroom feel devoid of an presence. Using a pencast can help establish your presence in the classroom because your voice can be heard by learners. 


Pencasting can be used as a means to demonstrate. This is valuable for reviewing and clarifying instructions, showing how to use applications, providing a walk-through of steps in a process, or demonstrating how to solve a problem.

Cognitive Load

Cognitive load is the amount of mental effort used in working memory. As students work to learn new information, we can help them manage cognitive load by adhering to the principles of multimedia learning. Learn more about Designing for Learning. ​ ​

What tools do I need?

  • webcam/microphone

  • free video hosting

  • whiteboard application

  • touch screen and stylus or pen tablet 

Free Whiteboard Application for Creating Pencast Videos


Microsoft OneNote

OneNote is a free application that gathers users' notes (handwritten or typed), drawings, screen clippings and audio commentaries. It is easy to create pencast videos by using Microsoft OneNote in tandem with a free screen recording application such as Screencast-O-Matic.  Learn more about OneNote 2016

Pencast Video Tutorials


Teaching in Higher Ed - How to Pencast

Bonni Stachowiak's website Teaching in Higher Ed contains a wealth of resources  for college educators (including our favorite Teaching in Higher Ed podcast). Stachowiak's resources includes great information on pencasting, including a recent podcast episode on the topic. 

Check out Bonni Stochowiak's How to Pencast video:


Brandy Dudas's Pencast Tutorial

Brandy Dudas is an accounting professional and educator who produces popular pencasts for her accounting students. We learned about Dudas's videos on the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast

Check out Brandy Dudas's How to Make Pencasting Video:



Clark, R. C., Mayer, R. E. (2011) e-Learning and the science of instruction; Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning (3). Hoboken, US: Pfeiffer.


Dudas, B. (2017, May 4). Try pencasting – it’s really easy! Retrieved July 27, 2017, from


Mayer, R. E. (2012). Multimedia learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Mayer, R. E. (2014). The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning. (2nd ed). New York: University of Cambridge.


Stachowiak, B. (2017). Pencast: Use an iPad, Doceri, and Apple Pencil to create pencasts. Retrieved July 27, 2017, from


Are Lightboard Videos the Same as Pencasts?


Lightboard videos differ from pencasts. They feature text written in neon marker on a glass erasable board. The clear glass board is flooded with light to create a crisp and clear image allowing viewers to clearly see the text as well as the instructor. Since the instructor can face the camera as they teach, they are afforded a greater opportunity to make eye contact with the camera and create a sense of immediacy with their learners.  


The downside to lightgboards is that they can be costly to construct and a full-size lightboard occupies significant space. If you are interested  in experimenting with lightboard videos, Learning Glass offers a table-top travel-sized option that we have worked with and for the more industrious among us, there are sites that provide materials lists for constructing a homemade lightboard studio.

Lightboard Demonstrations


Matt Anderson's YouTube Channel

Matt Anderson is a physics professor who developed learning glass for education. 

See an example of Matt Anderson's teaching with learning glass:


Michael Peshkin's Lightboard Website

Michael Peshkin is an engineering professor who developed an open source hardware system for constructing a lightboard. 

See Michael Peshkin's Lightboard Introduction video: