Pinterest as an academic research tool

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Joanna Neil
29 March 2012

  • How can ‘content curation’ platform Pinterest be used for both synchronous and asynchronous activities?
  • How can Pinterest be used to introduce good practice for academic research and referencing?
  • How can Pinterest  be used as a selective research method that encourage curation not aggregation of information. 
  • How can Pinterest be used to encourage collaborative working practices as well as interactive discussion? 

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Context for discussion

Pinterest does not currently promote itself as a potential academic tool but I have started using it with my students studying on a Foundation Degree in Textiles/Fashion. The first stages of theme research involve looking for examples by other designers. Pinterest allows them to 'curate' their imagery, adding a link to the source where they found the imagery and add their own annotation about the work. Because I am able to follow and add my comments I can prompt responses and start a discussion. I have used it asynchronously but I am interested in organsing as session where students respond to each other comments in a timed session. I am interested in whether this stimulates more discussion/annotation than traditional image print outs and written notes.

Joanna Neil
18:23 on 1 April 2012

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Joanna Neil
12:08pm 21 April 2012 (Edited 12:17pm 21 April 2012)


One of my early observations of how using Pinterest might improve a student's attainment and the quality of their research is from the interaction or intervention I am able to make throughout their research process. Because I am able to access a students ongoing research I can prompt them with my comments that remain visible in the process. The student can then refine their commentary/annotation and also become more selective in what they look at.

Before I used Pinterest with students they would hand in their research findings at the end (with some input through tutorials) my feedback would then be used to help them on the next stage of the research process or project but did not have the immediate impact that a live and recorded exchange has.

Joanna Neil
1:05pm 21 April 2012


Copyright Issues

Pinterest is not without its issues, there has been a lot written about copyright infringement because ”Pinning” often involves using copyrighted imagery that is easily available on the web. With my own pinning I use an image from its original source and reference ( credit ) the artist in every description - this is how students can learn about academic referencing and not just appropriate imagery without considering who it belongs to. This might be fine in principle but the reality is a can of worms. At the moment I am examining the way something like Pinterest works and it may be better to find a less contentious way of students visualising and sharing their research.

Is Pinterest the Next Napster?

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304450004577279632967289676.html

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