Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pinterest in Education

My new technological obsession is Pinterest. If you're not familiar with Pinterest, it is a place where you "pin" your "interests." It is the technological equivalent of cutting pictures out of magazines and gluing them on a piece of poster board, except your magazine contains every image on the internet, the images link to more info about them, and your poster board is infinitely large, easily editable, and contains categories. It's visual bookmarking: the image-based equivalent of Delicious. It's also social: you can follow people whose pins you like and it links to Facebook and Twitter, so you can find your friends easily and check out what they have pinned.

Admittedly, Pinterest is pretty girly and popular pins are primarily clothes, jewelry, hair styles, DIY ideas, food, decorations, and pets. In other words, it was made for me. Tonight I am making a recipe I found on Pinterest. This weekend I am going to use a cool tip I found there to clean the hard water deposits off of my shower head. I also found an amazing solution to my lack of funds to purchase a dazzling light fixture.

Although the popular pins are mostly for fun, any image on the internet can be pinned and categorized. Pinterest could be used in education the same way that social bookmarking like Delicious is used, but for topics with a more visual emphasis, which, I think, makes it a bit more engaging. Would you rather see a list of words linked to webpages, or a page of images? Which image below are you more drawn to: my Delicious page on the left or my Pinterest page on the right?



I think the best way to use social bookmarking (whether it's text based like Delicious or image based like Pinterest) is to collect resources that will help students in their education and/or future careers. It's basically a way to save things you find on the internet in a cloud that can be accessed on any device (including phones, although there is not a Pinterest Android app yet, so it doesn't work great on my phone). Bookmarking is also a great way to get students exploring the sites that are relevant to them. They can find a pin that leads to a website that leads them to pin a new image.

Here are a few disciplines that I think would make the best use of Pinterest, due to their visual nature primarily:
  • Culinary arts
  • Apparel design
  • Education (this is already a category of pins)
  • Biology
  • Geography
  • Architecture
  • Kinesiology (I see a lot of exercises on there)
  • Photography
This could be an assignment in kinesiology, for example (sorry if my details are off; this is not my field!): create a new board for a client. Pin 10 exercises that would be appropriate for your client. Look at the pins of your classmates and repin at least 3 others you think would work also, with your specific comments. 

For photography: create a new board for whatever technique. Pin 6 examples of this technique and repin 2 of your classmates findings with your comments.

It could also be used for content if the instructor pins things for the students to read/look at. A link to the board could be provided in D2L. Then the students could repin things to keep them!