When it comes to social-media, I would consider myself fairly well rounded. I jumped into Facebook and Twitter during their early years, picked up Reddit and Instagram during their rise in popularity, and have consumed multiple hours of content on YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok. One of the most popular sites that I have very limited experience in (while also being something I hear of repeatedly within the education sphere,) is Pinterest.
After creating an account years ago, and using it for all of five minutes, I decided to dive into it deeper this week to take a look at its features, positives and negatives, and possible educational opportunities. After taking a minute to reset my long-forgotten password, I got logged in and was immediately hit by the organized chaos of the home page. I assumed I must have made this account during my undergrad, as most of the initial results were a mixture of teaching resources and ads.
For those of you like me, who may not know much about how Pinterest’s platform operates, it can be summarized in a few points.
- Pinterest is a social network for sharing ideas, inspiration, and photos
- Your home screen is a never-ending stream of images that are based on your interests, tastes and lifestyle
- Users “pin” each other’s content to their own (or other’s) board. (Almost like a virtual bulletin board.)
- Several users that I have spoken to report using these pins as a way to save ideas for later or collect several ideas on a single topic
- Pinterest describes themselves as the “world’s catalog of ideas. Our mission is to help people discover the things they love, and inspire them to go do those things in their daily lives.”
See the video below from TechBoomers, that gave me a great start on my understanding of the app!
Pinterest, like many social-media platforms, has expanded beyond its original purpose, to incorporate a wide variety of tools that enhance the user experience. These features go beyond the main searching and pinning that I’ve mentioned above. Although I was able to experiment with some of these features in small amounts, I found this article from Business Insider was an easy read that explained many of the ‘extra’ features, some of which I have listed below. Although this article was a bit dated (2017,) I also consulted this article from Entrepreneur.
- ‘Pinterest Lens’ is a feature available on the mobile app. It allows you to take a picture with your camera or from your gallery and find suggestions based on your image.
- Visual Search– By selecting the magnifying glass in the corner of your pin, you can look up specific items within the image. Pinterest then may be able to show you similar items that are available to purchase.
- Pinterest Browser Extension- allows you to save links from other websites to your Pinterest. It is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
- Search Filters are available to navigate to more specific results. (For example, the amount of time it takes to prepare a recipe.)
- Secret and Collaborative Boards: You have the option to keep your board secret from the public, or also invite others to collaborate and pin to a certain board.
- Follow other users and get notified when they pin a certain resource, or when others pin the same resource that you have
- Personal Notes- A feature that allows you to add notes to specific pins (Example: Sunday dinner idea)
|Find inspiration for art, recipes, design, travel|
Multiple Boards can be created to organize ideas/pins around a certain theme
Content is tailored to your interests You can pin websites and resources from other websites besides Pinterest
You can choose to keep your boards secret, or available to the public
Privacy options are available
100% free to use
Intuitive user interface
Comments are optional
|As with other social-media spheres, scammers, spam, catfishing, and fake giveaways are present|
Infinitely browsable (never-ending source of new content)
Can be an overwhelming amount of information and pins. It is easy to drown your own boards with hundreds of ideas
Terms of Service, Didn’t Read (an online source that seeks to simplify and grade the terms of service in various apps) gives Pinterest a grade of E (very poor.)
Much of this grade is based on how the app uses your data. (This grade is common
among large apps/companies, but click the link for more information.
(Thanks to Leigh for the suggestion on this site!)
While researching the educational opportunities, I found two easy to read, very informative resources. I came across was a blog post by Leah Anne Levy from the University of Southern California, as well as a article from TeachThought. Some of the key opportunities mentioned are below:
- Creative Team Brainstorming- Students can easily search for ideas and pin images to a collaborative board. This allows students to easily gather information to a central hub, and foster future success in group projects
- Digital Student Portfolios/Photo Journals- Another avenue of easy image and resource collection, that can be centred on any number of topics/assignments
- Lessons on Copyright and Digital Citizenship- As noted above, issues may arise with the pinning of other’s content. Lessons can be created, using Pinterest as an example, around fair use, crediting the original source, etc.
- Current Events/Global Connections- Students can connect with current events, as well as resources from all over the world through the use of boards curated towards these specific topics.
- Differentiated Learning- Differentiated boards, curated with differentiated content is an easy and digital way to support learners of all levels. Collecting different levels or different styles of resources for a research project could lead to success to a wider variety of students within your classroom.
- Sparking Student Inspiration- Having students scroll through one of your pre-created boards can help alleviate the common ‘I don’t know what to write/draw/research/etc. about.’ Your ideas can be a starting block in a variety of projects.
Pinterest is a wonderful resource for gathering inspiration and ideas, but there are some things of notes that parents should consider.
- Pinterest does have a setting called ‘Search Privacy.’ Choosing yes on this setting allows to hide your child’s profile from being indexed for Google searches.
- ‘Turn off Personalization’ is a way to turn off data collection to prevent a child’s data from being collected and sold for advertising.
- Other social-media networks can be linked to Pinterest. This can cause wanted and unwanted ramifications
- Secret Boards still allow multiple contributors, but that board is not available to the public
- Due to the wide variety of content on the internet, have discussions with your child about what is appropriate to post. Pictures, or self-identifying information on public boards may be things to be avoided
- Fake accounts are present on the app. Have conversations with your child about spam, catfishing, etc. and what to watch out for.
- The required age to sign up for an account is 13. Parents should be aware as, along with many other apps, some students lie about their age in order to gain access.
- Net-aware.org rates Pinterest as having an overall safety rating of ‘Good,’ which is 4 out of 5 on their rating scale. Click the link for more tips on staying safe on Pinterest from Net-Aware.org
In closing, through my research and discussion I have found Pinterest to be a highly engaging, inspiration building application, that has several upsides. I see a real possibility to use this in the classroom, not only with students, but also through organizing my own ideas for classroom decoration and lesson planning. I’ve started to create my own boards for each, and am contemplating how to use it with my class in the near future. If you have suggestions on how to incorporate Pinterest in your classroom, or just want to share your thoughts on the app as a whole, I’d love to hear about it in the comment section!