Edu-pinning: Pinterest in Education

My name is Erin Paynter and I am addicted to Pinterest.

Pinterest has been named over and over as the hottest new website for 2012, with the rate of new users rising every week at a seemingly exponential rate. Some of what is driving the huge rate of growth is its “viral” nature, meaning re-pins account for most of the activity on the site (MarktetingProfs article: Social Media: What’s Driving Pinterest’s Amazing Growth).  My husband was at first fascinated by my fascination, but now he looks at me quizzically and asks, “Seriously, what’s it for?”.   I found Courtney Lowery Cowgill’s article on MediaShift to be a great explanation:  it’s part social networking (kind of),  part bookmarking, part curating, part blogging.

In the past few weeks, the uses of Pinterest in the field of education have come zooming to the forefront of the online edu-chatter (see this post by Eric Sheninger).  After checking it out and watching for a while, I began pinning and following other pinners and/or their boards.  I have seen teachers use it to display ideas regarding classroom organization and management, lesson plan ideas and assessment tools.  Lately I’ve begun following fellow administrators as they share everything from inspirational leadership quotes, to videos, to web 2.0 tools for educators, social media and infographics. What I like most about Pinterest is that you can follow individual boards rather than everything a pinner posts.  This is great because many pinners are combining professional resources with personal ones.  In other words, I can follow a colleague’s board on leadership in education, but not the one they’ve created for remodeling their kitchen or their upcoming wedding.

These are six pinners from the field of education and leadership that I think have boards worth following:

Vicki Davis (coolcatteacher)

Vicki has created boards on:  “Being a Social Media Maven”, “Teaching Ideas and Apps” and “Collaborative Writing”, and my favourite “Global Collaboration in Education”.

Eric Sheninger (esheninger)

One of the movers and shakers in the field of social media in education, Eric is using his boards to organize resources in the areas of educational videos, Google chrome extensions, Twitter apps and resources, Web 2.0 tools for educators and his personal learning network (PLN). He was the first educator I followed and I repinned his stuff like mad in my beginnings.

Karen Steffensen (kstef2)

Karen is an educator with the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat.  She has created boards on “Transforming Education”, “Great PD Links” and boards with resources in the areas of science, the arts, literacy and numeracy.

Debbie Fucoloro (debbiefuco)

An ICT specialist in Missouri, Debbie has curated her resources on social media and web 2.0, ideas in education, infographics and her work as a PhD grad student.

Shannon Smith (shannoninottawa)

Shannon’s boards run the gamut of teaching from kinder to language arts, and includes a great board on edtech essentials.

Shelly Terrell (shellyterrell)

By far the busiest pinner of the list, Shelly has amassed an extensive set of resources in everything from digital storytelling and graphic organizers, to collaboration tools and word cloud tools.

After a week or so of pinning, my thoughts are now looking to the classroom.  Pinterest has shown itself to be highly engaging with many potential uses for teachers, but what about the students? Has anyone begun using it with students? in what capacity? What has the feedback to you been? I would love to get a discussion going…

31 thoughts on “Edu-pinning: Pinterest in Education

  1. Hi Erin,

    I was introduced to Pinterest by my sister in law who is an avid quilter and kindergarten teacher in B.C. I really love the visual nature of it and ease with which to share resources. I use this as well as scoopit and find that between the two sites I am able to keep track of all the fabulous resources shared via Twitter and blogs.

    I think Pinterest has great potential, as does scoopit, for students to organize their research/sources on particular areas or topics they are exploring. I think it could also be a great portfolio devise to post progress of their work and thinking, adding visuals, audio and video etc. Not sure, though, how you protect students from unwanted “trackers” and re-pinners, although, I think there might be a way in settings to keep it private. Will have to explore that further.

    Looking forward to seeing how you and others might use it with students. Keep me posted 🙂

    • Hi Karen – I love the idea of student portfolios to track progress, as well as curate sources for work. I’m going to check in to the privacy settings aspect of the site as well. Off the top of my head I also see how teachers could use it to curate resources/sources for the Annual Learning Plans. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Hi Erin,

    First of all, I am honored to be mentioned in the company of the inspirational educators I have followed for years and respect immensely. In the few weeks I have been using Pinterest, I have grown increasingly impressed with the possibilities for educational uses. As a visual learner, I find Pinterest particularly appealing. I appreciate its clean and uncluttered look, which allows the focus to be on the actual pinned content.

    I agree with Karen, as I too have reservations regarding student use particularly students in grades K-8 who are for the most part too young to have Facebook and Twitter accounts. I would want to make sure that protections against unwanted “trackers” were in place in order to protect students before I use it with them. It would be my hope that an educational version could be rolled out ala Glogster EDU. Let’s start a campaign for Pinterest EDU!

    I am looking forward to seeing how educators embrace this great tool, and I already have ideas on how to make it better, for example, a list of the user’s boards or a navigation bar will be needed as users add boards.

    Thanks, again, for your post and let the campaign begin here for Pinterest EDU!

    • I am also an avid Pinterest user and recommend it to everyone, but especially to my fellow teachers-in-training as a means to save great ideas from veteran teachers. After graduation next spring, I want to hit the ground running, equipped with all the great tips, techniques, and ideas that I can find. Pinterest is great for that, I think.

      Debbie, you mentioned that Pinterest should have a list of the user’s boards. There already is such a thing. You just need to click on the drop-down arrow to the right of your own name on the right-hand side at the top of the window. You’ll see Boards listed as one of the menu items. Click on that and you’ll find all of your boards, along with the ability to arrange them in whatever order you’d like. Then when you go to pin or repin a pic, the menu will be in the same order as your arrangement of your boards–most helpful.

      What I would like to see Pinterest add is a listing of all the boards a person is following so I could go back and click on specific boards to check out their contents, not just see the pins that Pinterest decides I should see. I would also like it if there was a way to send an email to a specific Pinterest user so we could connect with one another right on Pinterest instead of hoping that we can connect on Facebook or Twitter.

      • Hi Cindy, Pinterest has made some great changes since I wrote this comment in February, however, I would still like to see an educational version for student use. You have also mentioned some super ideas that would make Pinterest even more user-friendly. Hopefully, someone at Pinterest is listening!

  3. Hi Erin,

    Great tool for educators, not so for students. Check out the TOS for once again we are imposing limits on those under 13. And frankly, even for those over 13, if you happen to check out the ‘Everything’ page it’s not always ‘G’ or even ‘PG’ rated.

    I too am all in favor of a Pinterest Edu version. Let me know where to sign the petition!

  4. Nice post! I’m putting together an individual but collaborative “take home test” using pinterest as the place students can go and share. I’m assigning it on Friday. You can see what I’ve done so far by going to and look at “new board”. This will be updated by Friday to reflect the assignment. Basically the project is to create visualizations for topics related to acids and bases in my chemistry class. I figured pinterest is a good place to use for this since it places an emphasis on visuals.

  5. I’ve been reading about how pinning violates copyright holders rights. I actually ended up deleting my account today because I don’t believe I can model ethical use. I loved Pinterest, but their Terms of Service said that we can’t pin things that we don’t own the rights to (or have permission to pin) and that if we are taken to court, not only do we pay for our own lawyer, we pay for Pinterest’s lawyers as well.

    • Hi Kim,
      I think you’ve raised valid concerns that have cropped up lately in the media. I was surprised to read that (yes, I am one of those that clicks yes without reading everything 😦 Hopefully there will be enough push back for Pinterest to repeal that clause in their Terms, and find a why to respect the copyrights of others.
      Thanks for your comment,

      • Hi Kim,
        I wonder if or how Pinterest’s Terms of Service differ from Diigo, Delicious and other social bookmarking services. Something to look into. Thanks for bringing up this issue. Debbie

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  8. This is really interesting. I’ve never really used Pintrest, but this sounds like an interesting tool to use as an educator. I’m currently a junior education major, but I can see how this would be useful in the future. Thanks for the post!

    • Hi Lauryn – thanks for commenting. Pinterest is becoming such a huge phenom in education that a colleague and I are approaching Pinterest to create an EDU version, much like GlogsterEDU and SymbalooEDU. This would address issues in filtering and appropriate content, not to mention pehaps adding features what would be useful for teachers and students.

  9. Our community members absolutely love re-pinning from our Atlanta Public Schools boards! We have 17 boards with over 260 pins. Everything from teacher and parent resources to digital archives…there is something for everyone, even if you don’t live in the city of Atlanta.

    I’ll be sure to check out the folks you have listed in the article. In the meantime, we are APSupdate on Pinterest. Check out our new teacher resource board for Women’s History Month! / Tammy Garnes

  10. Hi Erin!

    Thank you for mentioning my pinboards. I love pinterest, too! Obviously we share the same addiction. However, now I’m getting addicted to Pearl Trees! I don’t like when I don’t get the option to just bookmark the site without having an image attached. I wish they’d let you still bookmark it. I still love the site, though.

  11. As an ELL teacher at a STEM school, I have also been very interested in harnessing the power of Pinterest for use with my students. Some of my Pinterest EDU ideas include using it as a visual bibliography for research reports, student-created webquests, Pinboard-based research reports for presentations, comparing/checking reliability of sources, and possibly down the road, as a visual way to search for online resources on a specific topic. Using it as a way to visually bookmark important or interesting sites is also appealing for use with ELLs, who often rely on picture-cues to help them understand text. I love hearing about other ways people are using Pinterest (or thinking of using it), and I am sure that with its increasing popularity, the Pinterest team will have to find effective ways to respect copyrights and make pinning safe and secure for all users….including students!

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