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Pinterest as Teaching Tool

Posted by on Thursday, February 5, 2015 in Innovation Course, , , .

Like many History courses, Innovation looks backward over time, but it is the students’ interest in the present experience of the topic that most motivates.  Not a day passes where all of us do not see a new articles or advertisement or blog post promoting (or decrying) the latest trendy innovation, and we as a class wanted a way to share and save the most interesting of these.  Bring a copy to class?  Email the link?  Post to FaceBook? Tweet it?

In the end, we chose to use the social bookmarking site Pinterest (  It is drop-dead simple to use.  I created a course board (private for now), students can post to it rather than their own boards (preventing the mingling of personal and professional usage on some other platforms), and we generate a crowd-sourced mini archive of current commentary on the theme of Innovation in the news and around the web.  Like with most networking sites, we can also see view other boards that pinned the same article, allowing for the possibilities of serendipitous discovery.

One of us makes a mention of a particular topic in class (last week: Fritz Haber the German chemist) and by the next morning three posts to additonal information or interpretation are on our board.

Social bookmarking sites abound (Diigo, Evernote,, and Learnist for starters), but I chose Pinterest for its simplicity and student familiarity.  It has its drawbacks though, especially with regard to tagging and organizing.  Its current use, as a collection of recent news items and topically relevant material, its simple and visual interface, is perfect.  As we move from current events to a shared archive of research material (our next goal), Pinterest’s lack of meaningful tagging may greatly hinder its utility however.  Stay tuned.


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