Does Pinterest Belong in the Classroom?

If you do not use Pinterest, surely you have heard of it. It’s the new, online “scrapbooking” application that allows users to pin and share, well, everything… hairstyles, clothing, recipes, household tips, exercises, and more. My students regularly use Pinterest to help them plan their outfits for homecoming or scout out the next season’s wardrobe. I’ve played with it myself for a myriad of things – it is easy to use and readily addictive. The more I use Pinterest, the more I think “this has the potential to be a powerful classroom tool!”

Pinterest for Organization

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One of the great features of Pinterest is that you can “Pin” anything and everything to your boards. So, if a student has a project in history, for example, and they are using the web for research, they can “Pin” their research to a single board along with pertinent comments. This is a great way to store your research “in the cloud,” in a more dynamic way.

Pinterest for Collaboration

UntitledAnother great feature of Pinterest is that it allows you to invite people to a board for collaboration – you may post to the same board and/or comment on other peoples’ pins. This seems to be a great feature for group projects and sharing work outside of the classroom!

Sharing work is often a struggle for children as well as adults. Pinterest boards, however, are portable (they have iOS and Android Apps and is wholly web accessible) and visually stimulating.

Pinterest for Professional Development

Pinterest has some great professional development potential. Pinterest has its own Education category. A quick visit there can bring up some interesting and surprising topics. A number of prominent ed tech enthusiasts maintain boards dedicated to pedagogy, education, and educational technology. Edudemic published a great list: “The 20 Best Pinterest Boards About Education Technology.”

Potential Pitfalls

Pinterest still has some potential problems. Namely the fact that it is inherently public. There are no privacy settings (other than the “secret boards” they enable during the holiday season). Anything and everything that you (or your students) post is public and attached to your name. If you like the occasional off colored joke, it may not be a good idea to post it on Pinterest. Also, you cannot block people on Pinterest.

All in all, I think that Pinterest can serve as a powerful tool in education and I would love to hear and see what educators and students alike are doing with it!

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