Spring 2015: Pinterest Plans

This will be the first in a series of posts about plans for the upcoming Spring semester. Since they will be about planned changes rather than reviewing current class procedures, they will have a slightly different format, more open-ended as I just try to think-out-loud through some of the ideas I'd like to try!

So, Pinterest:

I continue to really enjoy using Pinterest for class-related Boards, and there has been a fair amount of student interest in using Pinterest too, clearly more than for using Twitter. Here's the Socializing with Twitter and/or Pinterest extra credit option that I set up this semester, and Pinterest has been the preferred option by far.

Then, a big development happened just last week: I learned that Pinterest Boards have RSS feeds! Incredible, huh? So, I was able to subscribe to my various class-related Pinterest Boards using my amazing RSS reader, Inoreader. Then, because the Pinterest content is coming in to Inoreader, I can use the amazing RSS-out feature at Inoreader to combine those Pinterest feeds and send them back out via an RSS feed of its own, along with an HTML clippings view (see below for the clippings embedded here).

So, with RSS, that means I would be able to keep up with my students' Pinterest Boards, actively and passively, like I do now for the blogs. I think that would be great! One of the biggest challenges with an online course like this is feeling in touch with what the students are doing but without being overwhelmed with email or having to spend lots of time going from blog to blog (or Pinterest Board to Pinterest Board). Inoreader has given me the perfect way to do that, allowing me to watch the incoming flow and also to flag and tag things for future reuse, while also having the RSS-out and HTML clipping service in order to share content back with the students.

Which means... I am on the verge of making Pinterest a required tool for class, so that bookmarking, curating, and sharing would happen at Pinterest as a natural part of the class. As I type these words, I'm thinking, hmmmm, can I really make that work in a way that will not feel burdensome to the students, and I'm thinking that it can. Using Pinterest is incredibly quick and easy, and it also has big payoffs for reuse and efficiency. It's not the most powerful bookmarking and curating tool out there, but the ease of use and sheer appeal makes it the best way to START bookmarking, curating, and sharing.

So, here are my initial thoughts: I will ask everyone to create a Pinterest Board during the first week to use as their "personal portfolio" for the class. That will be a fun and easy addition to the first week of class. Then, there will be a Pinterest element associated with the class assignments I have now:

  • weekly reading: students can pin their favorite story from the reading (UnTextbook) or they can pin their favorite image from the epic selection (Indian Epics)
  • storytelling/essay: students can pin their own storytelling/essay blog posts to their Pinterest Board
  • Storybook: students can pin each page of their Storybook to their Board as they complete them
  • blog comments: as they comment on other students' blog posts, they can pin the other students' blog posts to their Board (this will be really great for remembering who you commented on!)
  • Storybook comments: likewise, as they comment on other students' Storybooks, they can pin those pages to their Board (which will also help them remember just which Storybooks they liked best)

Adding that Pinterest element into the existing assignments will only take a few minutes each week, but it will help the students produce a unified "picture" of their class experience, one that integrates their own writing as well as their interactions with the other students.

Then, for extra credit, I will encourage other kinds of Pinterest pinning each week that goes further:

  • research: pinning research materials relevant to the class reading each week and/or relevant to their class project
  • students connecting: pinning other materials that they find by exploring other students' blogs and looking at other kinds of posts in those blogs
  • class sharing: pinning materials from the class announcements and the class Twitter stream

Doesn't that sound cool? Then, by subscribing to the RSS feeds for the students' Pinterest Boards, I would get a sense of what things are being shared and reshared across the network, giving me a chance to foster that sharing also by grabbing items from the Pinterest Boards to put in the Twitter stream for the class, etc.

Here's the HTML clipping feed for my Pinterest Boards; just think how much more cool that would be with my students' stuff too:

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