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Using Pinterest in Higher Education

by Justin Marquis Ph.D.

Pinterest use is booming among people age 25-34 with annual salaries of $100,000 or more (Huffington Post Tech, 21 March, 2012). The site has shown remarkable growth with unique users growing from 11.7 million in January, 2012 to 17.8 million in February making it the third most popular social networking site behind Facebook and Tumblr (Mashable.com, 20 March 2012). While the primary demographic may not be college students, there is certainly potential for using the medium in the higher education classroom.
 

(Mashable.com)

Instructors can use the site to remix their curriculums for students by pinning online resources – videos, infographics, images, and links to articles – into a course-based pinboard that provides students with an interesting and engaging visual "reading list" that contains some or all of the elements for the course. In addition, innovative instructors can assign students to curate and annotate a virtual bibliography or interactive report.

Students can use Pinterest to collect resources for either classroom research or personal interest in an easy to access visual representation. They can also use the site as a classroom presentation tool similar to (but dramatically different than) PowerPoint or Prezi. The following video and step-by-step instructions will help you get started using Pinterest for education whether you are a teacher or student.

Getting Started with Pinterest

Step-by-Step Instructions
Step 1: Get Invited! Part of what makes Pinterest so appealing is its perceived exclusivity. To get your invite, go to http://pinterest.com/ and press the "Request an Invite" button that appears at the top of the page. Follow the instructions to request your invite.

Step 2: Once you’ve been invited to join and have set up an account, you are ready to get started pinning. The first thing you will want to do is add the Pin button to your browser’s bookmarks toolbar if you are using Firefox. Click on "About" at the top of your browser window and select "Pin Button" from the drop down menu. On the "Goodies" page simply grab the "Pin It" button with your mouse cursor, drag it into your bookmarks bar and drop it there. You can now press this button to pin any page on the Web.

Step 3: Once you have installed the Pin Button you are ready to start your first pin board. At the top of the page click "Add +" The "Add" option box will appear.  Click "Create a Board."

Step 4: On the next screen, give your board a descriptive yet catchy title. I’ve chosen "Using Pinterest in Education" for my sample pinboard. Then select a category that your board fits into. I’ve chosen "education" for this one. You can also add additional pinners at this point if you are collaboratively curating a board with a classmate or another instructor. After completing this page click "Create Board."

Step 5: You are presented with a blank canvas upon which to start pinning items that will fill your board. Before you start pinning you will want to click "Edit Board" in the center of the page. On the new page fill in the "Description" box so that others will be able to find and follow your pinboard. When you are done click "Save Settings."

Step 6a: Pinning method #1: If you have already found something that you want to pin you will want to copy the page URL first. Once you have copied the URL you can click "Add +" at the top of the page, then select "Add Pin" on the next page. The following box will appear on your screen:

Paste the URL you have copied into this box as shown above and click "Find Images." There are several things to do on the page that pops up. The first is to use the "Prev" and "Next" arrows to scroll to the image or video from the page that you want to use as the visual image on your board. Next use the drop down menu to choose the correct board. Here I have chosen "Using Pinterest in Education." Finally, enter a description of the item you are pinning. You can also copy and paste information from the original page to include in this box. When you are done click "Pin It" to add the item to your pinboard.

Step 6b: Pinning method #2: If you have already installed the "Pin It" button in your browser’s tool bar you can easily pin from any page on the Web. When you are on a page that contains a graphic or video that you want to add to one of your boards, just click the "Pin It" button in your browser bar to begin adding that resource to your pinboard. When you press the button, a small pop-up will appear on the screen displaying a thumbnail of the item you want to add. If you mouse over it, a button that says "Pin It" will appear. Click that button.

In the pop up window, choose the appropriate board and type a description of the item you are pinning. Click "Pin It" when you are done.

The successful pin pop up will appear which allows you to see your pin or tweet it via Twitter.

Step 7: You have now successfully pinned items to one of your Pinterest boards using the two basic methods. Check out your board then fill it up.

Pinterest is a fun and engaging tool that appeals to many people in a world dominated by visual media. It provides an easy way to keep track of all that you find on the Internet in a way that allows you, your students, colleagues, and friends to quickly browse through information to find what is most appealing to them. As an educational tool the uses are only limited by your own creativity. Please share any new and innovative uses of Pinterest in education that you find on this site or on Google + or Twitter @drjwmarquis.