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Pros: Super simple interface and features make it easy to search, discover, and save ideas.
Cons: User-generated content can be uneven in quality, and search success is closely tied to using exactly the right words.
Bottom Line: An effective way to search for new ideas and save them for later use, but keep an eye on the source -- and on your watch.
Encourage students to explore specific boards or to search specific terms to create their own boards. Have kids create boards that illustrate a theme, evoke a feeling, or tell a story. As a teacher, create your own boards for different units, themes, professional development topics, and activities to further enhance and grow your classroom practice.
Pinterest is a “visual discovery tool” that lets users search for, upload, and collect images for later review, reflection, and inspiration. Users can collect individual images (pins) in collections called boards, and then share their boards publicly or save them for private use.
The tablet and mobile apps for Pinterest offer the site's best features in an easy-to-use interface. Users can easily add pins from the Web, their own photos, or their current location. By selecting Add from Place, users can search for a location, browse photos from that location, and then add pins to their boards. They can also flexibly search their friends' boards, as well as publicly shared boards from around the world.
Pinterest is a useful tool both for random linking and for targeted searching. The education community on Pinterest is significant. Boards are filled with lesson plans, activities, and general ideas for enhancing the classroom. These boards are a great place to learn how to use the search features on Pinterest: Users can link through interesting pins to find related boards, and they can add and subtract search terms to refine a search and better target relevant content.
In addition to the serious educator boards, there are boards filled with viral videos, cat pictures, and other far less serious (although no less engaging) content. Luckily, Pinterest is a great space to be both serious and silly. It’s possible to create boards for classroom activities and professional development ideas right alongside boards for outfit ideas and DIY gardening projects.
As with any crowdsourced content, users should bring a critical eye to the pins they find and repin. While some might offer high-quality insights on classroom management or a killer activity for the foreign language classroom, others might fall flat or be downright "Not Safe For Work." So it could be risky to let students roam unsupervised in the world of Pinterest, but with good ground rules for searching, uploading, and pinning, Pinterest could also be a great help to teachers and an engaging and educational addition to the classroom.