Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pinterest: Educators Proceed With Caution

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I’ve been hearing a lot lately about Pinterest.  For those who don’t know Pinterest is the latest social media site that allows users to ‘pin’ sites, articles and pictures of interest to a virtual bulletin board for others to see and browse.

The site has great potential for educators.  Imagine collecting web resources for a student project and rather than handing out reams of paper with a list of sites you simply directed students to your Pinterest board.  Quick and easy, no wasted time navigating, no search engines, no misspelled URLs.  A class Pinterest board would quickly become a valued tool and time saver.

I don’t have a Pinterest board but checked out the site in anticipation of principals and teachers calling to see if the site was appropriate for classroom use (I’m kind of the go-to guy for social media).  The landing page looked good.  A bit busy for my taste but nothing that would get a teacher in trouble.  Then I checked out the ‘popular’ pages.  Again busy but no worries.  The education page had a great collection of sites and ideas for teachers.  If you’re interested in a nice primer on Pinterest and worthwhile edu-boards check out Richard Byrne’s article at Free Technology for Teachers.

Then it happened.  I clicked on the ‘photography’ category and right there above the fold was a picture of a topless girl with the caption naked teenagers scrawled underneath.  Can you say big red flag?  To make sure it wasn’t a fluke I went back to Pinterest tonight and topless girl was gone but in her place was a completely naked girl taking a chocolate bath – yes, I mean that literally. The big red flag was replaced by a big flashing red light.

So for now my advice to principals and teachers on Pineterest will be, “Proceed with caution.”  I never like for educators to be in a position where they have to defend the indefensible.  Trying to explain to the mother of a 14 year old why you sent her son to a site with naked women prominently displayed is not something you want to do.   So unless you’re sure you can keep students from wandering on the site – find another resource.

By the way … I do use a posting site called  Which will allow you to post to a bulletin board but without the wandering eyes risk.. You can check out my board here.

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