Ten Great Ways to Use Pinterest to Support Learning

I recently started baking gingerbread men. It was my first real attempt at baking, I have to admit, and was spurred into it by a bizarre Christmas present of some cut-outs for making gingerbread men in the shape of ninja (thus, transforming a normal everyday “gingerbread” man into a lethal “ninjabread” man). A little childish, perhaps, but the act of creating something so visually striking (and tasty!) that others could enjoy was thoroughly satisfying.


“So what’s all this got to do with Pinterest?” You might ask.

Well, one of the often quoted reasons for using Pinterest is to share recipes, so I first started exploring the site for ideas and tips, but then quickly got pulled into a visual smorgasbord of possibilities (be warned, like many social media sites, it can very addictive!).

On the face of it, you might be excused for thinking that it’s just another photo-sharing site, but there’s actually a lot more to it than that.  Pinterest has enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity over the last year: In the Top 100 Tools for Learning survey 2012 it came straight in at number 36 and it’s been badged as the fastest growing start-up to date.

“Now, as social media services continue to grow and expand, the tools are more visual and social, and that seems to be attracting special audiences of early adopters.” Joanna Brenner, Pew Internet

So what makes Pinterest so appealing? According to a recent report by Pew the site is particularly popular amongst women, with nearly one fifth of all women online using Pinterest. Another study by Nakano attributes Pinterest’s popularity to factors such as the site’s design and ease of use and the way it helps to plan and organise real life events and projects making it easily fit into people’s everyday lifestyles and hobbies.

Personally, I’d still put Pinterest somewhere on the initial rise on the hype cycle for emerging technologies, which means many are still finding their feet with it and the possibilities for education have not yet been fully explored. Now, it’s very easy to get carried away with anything on the initial rise (and I’m as guilty as the next person), so I’ve taken the time to explore how Pinterest could be used in education to support learning and have also highlighted some of the issues you will need to consider.

The big challenge is sourcing free-to-use images and ensuring that you don’t infringe copyright, but there are other challenges too, like finding images that are appropriate to your subject area and learners, and coming up with inspiring ways to use Pinterest that will hook your learners in. Both Jisc Legal and Jisc Digital Media can offer guidance on the copyright front, but it’s also worth looking at what you can do yourself to add value to the site by sharing your own content.

Here are some ideas to get you started:


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