Commonly it is labeled as a site for women who want to do crafts, decorate their homes, or sometimes for self bragging. Men tend to be turned off by it because of the massive amount of flowers, pink, and “sissy” stuff that shows up on the board, but Pinterest has proven to me to be a very effective tool for education.
I jumped on the bandwagon of Pinterest just this past fall when my cousin “strongly urged” me to accept her invitation to join. Soon, I was hooked, and was stashing ideas left and right for decorating my home, photography ideas, recipes, and definitely a slew of party ideas that I would eventually use….someday.
Before long, I realized that Pinterest definitely has its educational benefits as well. I began to see teachers pinning ideas of how to organize their classroom, links to resources, and just a vast amount of ideas for all sorts of things related to the classroom.
After attending a technology conference in February, I quickly realized that Pinterest would be a fantastic tool for education. It seemed that this resource was actually great for something aside from the home decor pictures, throwback memory pictures or those silly memes.
Case and point: A silly meme is shown above.
From what I have seen and read, Pinterest can actually benefit education as a whole in variety of ways, from teachers organizing resources into categories for themselves, based on unit, subject, etc; to collaboration of resources and ideas between fellow educators across the globe, to sharing a wealth of resources with students in the classroom and extending the learning experience outside of it.
Floating around the web lately is this visual info graphic that I feel sums up the benefits of Pinterest for education quite nicely:
From: Online Universities Blog
Pinterest for Me
Originally, I began to use Pinterest for education to stash resources for my classes. We do not have a state adopted textbook that really goes with what we teach, and my district department does not provide written material for lessons with our software, so much of my class material comes through internet research and developing curriculum myself. This definitely has its pluses and minuses; its great because it pushes my creative limits, and I’m always really excited when I feel like I come up with a fun lesson. I also feel fortunate to have a lot of control over what I teach, allowing for more flexibility to customize my curriculum to my students. Unfortunately though, I feel like I must find all of my resources myself many times and I have to research most everything myself. Fortunately, over the last few years I have been able to build up a bank of resources and now I am able to update as years progress, but that first year was really difficult! With Pinterest, I am able to categorize links to websites I find beneficial for creating lessons, and at the same time I can share it with colleagues, then it allows our program to grow as a whole.
My idea is that if educators begin to connect across the country and the rest of the world, we can lift the rigor and education system as a whole, because in theory, teachers will begin to use similar practices and innovative ideas for classrooms will be able to spread more quickly through the use of the internet and visual reference. I also tend to pin ideas for friends of mine that teach different subjects that I think might interest them. (Almost all of my other cousins, college friends, etc. are elementary teachers.) In the classes I teach, while I have state recommended guidelines, there is no official district provided curriculum, so I have to research best practices for teaching my classes and am constantly searching for new ideas of how to present the content to our students.
Pinterest For My Students
After going to Austin, I decided that I should try using Pinterest with my students to organize the extra resources I provide for them in class. First I decided I would create a whole separate Pinterest account under my school Gmail. I began pinning resources found to be useful for the programs we used in class as well as several other related subjects into separate boards, that way this would be a visual representation of acceptable links for my students to visit during class, or this is a location where students can explore a variety of resources to help them advance their learning on their own accord. Before long, I hope to have students pinning their own pins and creating their own resource banks.
Above is an image of my Pinterest boards that I have created specifically for use in my classroom.
Over the last few years, I have learned that my students are very visual people, and an image is much more likely to grab their attention and encourage them to explore a recommended link rather than a simple URL link as I have used in the past. Often times, I see them using the images section of Google when they are performing a search instead of the traditional search, so the visual representation of links on the boards in theory would increase the likelihood that my students would take ownership over their own learning and explore the resources themselves.
Provide Inspiration –Promote Creativity
I also have taken the opportunity to share links with my students of great examples of design–to provide inspiration whenever we work on creative projects as well as share tutorials for other semi-related subjects such as photography. (Several of my kids have discovered that I am also a photographer, and are very interested in learning more and want to explore for themselves.)
Above is an example of my Design Inspiration board. There are really a whole lot of pins here—and some very interesting images!
Give Students The Ability to Choose
We all have them–the students who seem to blaze through every project super fast, then it looks like you weren’t prepared and they have nothing to do! Many kids want to simply browse the internet, but how do we increase the learning and rigor of these students who seem to be ahead? Students who are quick finishers are able to explore recommended links in a visual format with Pinterest and find something new that interests them, while at the same time still learning about Multimedia or whatever your subject is. Students can also explore tutorials and information on related items of the curriculum that we might not have the opportunity to get to as a class–such as Adobe Illustrator or advanced Photoshop tutorials. So, while the students are still making their own choices, they are still focused on the subject of the class and increasing their learning—and often times will develop a stronger understanding because the student has an interest in it themselves.
To the side: A Photoshop Board with additional resources for students who finish quickly and want to add more detail to a project, or students who might be struggling and need additional help. Even if I can’t help them personally–I have taken time to link to resources that might be helpful to them!
Trouble Shooting Techniques
With the visual bookmarking and categories, students have the opportunity to expand their learning or look up how to complete a certain task in a program, such as “how to remove a background in Photoshop,” or at the same time–students can explore tutorials and information on related items that we do not have the opportunity to get to as a class—such as Illustrator.
Not too long ago, there was some concern regarding the use of pinterest in relation to the violation of copyrights. This was quite a battle for me, because as an artist, and a teacher who stresses strongly to respect copyright and proper use of resources. When it came down to it though, my thoughts are that Pinterest is a wonderful visual bookmarking tool, that allows us to categorize our bookmarks in a variety of subjects, making it easier to find them, use them more often, and increase our knowledge through sharing the resource locations.
In the field of education, are we not representative of the idea of expanding our learning? Pinterest helps us do exactly that—expand our learning-–whether it is how to study for a test, take a better picture, how to design a flash website, access better research materials, do our hair, or better clean our floors—it’s all education when it comes down to it, because it involves increasing our learning capabilities. Do we not have interior designers, wedding planners, hair stylists, and chefs in this world? These people all have had specific educations just like others in academia who teach Math, so a broader perspective helps us realize that while it may not be what we traditionally view of educational, it still can be due to the fact that knowledge is gained when using these resources.
Since my implementation of Pinterest in my classroom, I have seen an increase of student exploration in my recommended links as well as less questions have been asked of me when they are unsure of a certain procedure in Flash or Photoshop. My whole goal as a teacher is to encourage my students to become self guided learners for a lifetime, and not completely depend on me for the information I lay in front of them. As a society, if we encourage self guided learning, we will continue to prosper and remain free and independent thinkers.
My appraiser also happened so notice my reference to using Pinterest in the classroom and enjoyed the “out of the box” thinking when approaching the sharing of information with our students.
So, even if you don’t have a classroom full of computers, but you happen to have a class website, I would encourage you to create a board or ID for you to explore and share information with your students, making it more likely that they will be self motivated to explore the resources you provide for them related to your subject! The great thing about this is you don’t have to immediately have your boards full of many resources, this is like a catalog that can be built and developed over time.
Now, hop on over to my classroom Pinterest account and give it a look! Let’s exchange and collaborate!