Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Digital: Pinterest, why I think all Art Teachers should be using it!

I've done a few posts on here over the last two years about Pinterest but having recently given a talk at a staff training event I realised things have changed in two years! Pinterest has some new functions and I have some more articulate ways of explaining why I think Pinterest's is so great and why I think all Art Teachers should be jumping on the Pinterest Bandwagon! 

Social Networking tool/Digital
It's digital! (obviously, I hear you cry!) but that has a fair few benefits for us as Art teachers:
  • It can be submitted in that format to your exam boards! Edexcel even have an article on it and we have experience of submitting it as part of student research for three years now. It has always been simple and painless and relatively well received (more so now that it is more widespread!)
  • You can save money on printing and time on presenting (for you or students, however it works at your place) instead of printing out, cutting, sticking and hand writing around it, students can just send you the link to their account! We use the 3W approach that we use here on the blog with our students for annotating their boards
  • It's a great and easy way to effectively introduce a digital tool and a social networking tool into the classroom without it being a token gesture! I've always found making 'quizzes' and other smart board related tools largely geared towards exam based subjects. There's plenty of ways to get it used in class and outside, starter activities, collaborative boards between students or between staff and students, homework tasks, a main tool for a full research based, etc! 
  • In my experience students don't see it as a chore, they actively engage with it! They don't just use it in a professional manner for their project work, they are using it for personal interest too, a fact which I think should be celebrated! 
Digital Literacy
I love this term. Digital Literacy has been on the curriculum for a few years but in places I've worked it's never really been on the agenda, so to speak. This case study by Future labs highlights the key components of digital literacy, amongst them are collaboration, E-safety, the ability to find and select information, effective communication and creativity. Pinterest is a tool which you can use to develop all of these skills with students.
E-safety by creating your own boards to share with students you can navigate them to appropriate content and as part of the introduction to Pinterest with students it's worth cover things like spam accounts and how to spot them!
The ability to find and select information again you can kick start this process but then it's up to students. Pinterest will give them help with this suggesting relevant boards each time they pin but a key part of getting pinterest to work with your students is explaining the pin it button and getting them to pin straight from the source!
Effective communication students will need to come up with appropriate titles and a description to explain what their board is about and as I mentioned previously we use the 3W approach to aid them in annotating. They need to ensure that when another person views their boards that they understand the themes and messages they are trying to communicate! Another good activity is to help the develop stages of research through different boards. There can be an initial board with everything on and this can be narrowed down and selected from for later more considered boards, and so on!
Creativity, Pinterest is great to kick start a project! students boards can be filled with ideas from inspirational art and design work to mate

Secret Boards
I think this was my favourite addition and is an absolute asset when it comes to planning. For anyone else out there who likes to put together boards for things like exam topics, you may too previously remember spending the morning before you delivered the themes pinning away or delaying creating your boards till after you had delivered it but no more! When it launched there was a cap of just 6 boards but since mid February secret boards have gone unlimited! Woo-hoo! Now you can plan away and launch the boards exactly when you want them meaning you can plan terms ahead and pin ideas for future projects. 

Our Pinterest Accounts 
The thing we have found about Pinterest is that it's quite addictive once you get started! What we have also found is that what is relevant for I heart Teaching Art is not necessarily relevant for work and sometimes there's stuff we'd just like to pin for ourselves. The solution...multiple accounts. When we first used Pinterest at work we all worked at the same college and worked across several subjects. We also had a large cohort of BTEC students so we had one account with boards for different subjects and felt it was good for students from different disciplines to have access to a wide range of artists and designers. When me and Kirsty started at our new place we had much larger groups of students and were only teaching one subject (amazing!) and felt it would be best to provide them with a more specialist and detailed range of resources so we created individual pinterest accounts for our courses. We also like to pin our own bits and pieces so we have our own personal accounts (I'm a fan of pinning cooking, house inspiration, tattoos and things I'd like to knit). Check out the links below to see our different accounts:
Previous Posts
In case you're curious and want to look back at my previous posts about Pinterest you can check them here (remember one of them is 2 years old so it may be a little out of date!)
If you're not on Pinterest already what are you waiting for? Come and follow us on there!
- Claire 


  1. We have tried to at our school to make Pinterest available on the school network but our IT people have said it is too high risk as there is adult material on there. What did you do to persuade your school to allow access?

  2. Hello! When we first started using it it was in beta so our IT team weren't very aware of it, this meant we had already integrated it into lessons and submitted it as part of their research prior to it being blocked! So when it was blocked we contacted them and explained what we used it for and they allowed access. Unfortunately I guess that's not a very helpful response for you - it depends how you want to use it, if you're going to have your own dept pinterest account then you could say students will be using it as a tool off of your own one and so you will largely be guiding what they look at and also it opens up the chance for you to discuss there being adult material and do a bit of e-safety in class! Hope that helps! - Claire