Only the cool kids are invited…
Like many people, I didn’t really feel the need to jump on the Pinterest bandwagon, but then I had to do a presentation on how to use social networking in the classroom. Pinterest is the third most popular social networking site behind Facebook and Twitter, and so, for the sake of research, I joined Pinterest. But here’s the thing: you can’t just join Pinterest because you want to join Pinterest. You have to be invited. I was slightly annoyed that I had to wait to start pinning stuff, especially because I had to wait only two weeks after requesting an invite. Good grief.
While setting up my Pinterest account I was pleased to see that I could link the account to either my Facebook or Twitter account. One less username and password combination to remember sounded great to me (although I usually use the same ones over and over again. Shh, don’t tell). I decided to go with my Facebook account since I am still getting used to Twitter, but Facebook and Pinterest must be in cahoots with one another because that dang Pinterest tricked me into getting Facebook’s timeline profile. Grumble grumble.
Regardless of the initial inconveniences, Pinterest is my new addiction. Before joining Pinterest I had seen an eCard that mentioned drinking wine while looking at Pinterest all day, so for the sake of research, I decided to pour myself a glass of Pinot Noir before diving into the world of Pinterest. Two hours and three glasses of wine later, I realized I had to stop wasting time on Pinterest and take care of my big girl responsibilities like doing the dishes and feeding the cat.
How it works
Basically, Pinterest gives people the ability to “pin” things they find on the internet to different boards. Think of these Pinterest boards as being digital bulletin boards, and you can have multiple boards to help you to organize your pins. Initially, I didn’t know what the topics of my boards should be, but Pinterest is nice enough to give you some ideas as soon as you sign up.
I now have a board for classroom stuff, a board for workout ideas, a board for literary references (this is currently my largest board, full of entertaining images referring to Harry Potter, The Hunger Games Trilogy, and The Outlander Series. I also have a few random book covers in there for good measure), and a board that I call “Bumper Stickers”. You may or may not remember when Facebook had a bumper sticker application about three years ago; this is basically the same idea. The great thing about boards is that you can do whatever you want with them. Get creative!
Stalk me on Pinterest!
Like Twitter you “follow” people on Pinterest instead of “friend” them. I had no clue as to whom l should follow when I signed up, but Pinterest was nice enough to suggest people to follow based on what I marked as my interests. This made my initial pinning experience a bit worldlier since I could see the pins of people I had never met. Soon after, I learned that since my Pinterest account was linked with my Facebook account, I could automatically follow all of my Facebook friends who also had a Pinterest account.
If you follow someone on Pinterest, their pins automatically pop up on your home screen, much like posts on a wall on Facebook. You can “like” someone’s pin, or you can leave a comment on someone’s pin, however I’ve noticed that simply repinning a pin is the most common method of recognition.
So…what’s the point?
The purpose of Pinterest is not to share witty thoughts about everyday occurrences, nor is its purpose to share photos and news articles to document the events of an individual’s life. Instead, Pinterest aims to share various types of media such as photos, videos, websites, infographics, and more, with people who have similar interests. And I wonder sometimes if Pinterest aims to take over the world by distracting its users from their personal responsibilities in life…kind of like this Hulu commercial.
Teachers Can Use Pinterest for the Classroom
While I just sold Pinterest as an entertaining way to spend uneventful evenings, it does hold some potential for education. Teachers are using it to find ideas for their classrooms, but students are also using it as an instructional scaffold or as a form of assessment. As a language arts teacher, I am particularly interested in using Pinterest while teaching a novel. I imagine my students creating boards for the protagonist and the antagonist(s) of a novel and a board for the setting. Perhaps we could have a class board for the different books my students are reading independently, or a board for atrocious grammar mistakes the students see around town. The possibilities are only as limited as your creativity. To help inspire some new ideas, I have included this great infographic about how other teachers are using Pinterest.
Want to read more about how teachers can use Pinterest professionally? Check out this awesome post by Donna Miller Fry.