Pinterest as a Pedagogical Innovation

Concurrent Session 6

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Pinterest has seen a meteoric rise in use in recent years with 200 million active monthly users as of September, 2017. This presentation reports on the results of a study that seeks to explore the use of Pinterest as a teaching and learning tool. 


Dr. Nicole A. Buzzetto-Hollywood (formerly Buzzetto-More) is a Professor, Program Coordinator, and the Assurance of Learning and Assessment Chair in the Department of Business at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. She received doctorate and masters degrees from Columbia University and earned a post doctorate from Tulane University. She also earned a masters degree from the College of New Rochelle and a bachelor's degree from Marist College. A frequent presenter at conferences, she is on the editorial board of several journals; has authored over 40 peer reviewed journal articles as well as three books and several book chapters; and has been recognized with awards from the American Distance Education Consortium, Global Digital Business Association, and the Informing Science Institute. Her areas of expertise include: educational assessment and accreditation, instructional design, e-learning, instructional technology, management education, e-portfolios, communications, curriculum development, innovations in teaching and learning, marketing, and new media

Extended Abstract

Pinterest has seen a meteoric rise in use in recent years with 200 million active monthly users as of September 2017, a 40% 12-month increase, with 70% of users identifying as women (Kaplan, 2017). A Website and mobile app, Pinterest is a tool used for collecting, curating, and sharing visual information such as photographs, sketches, Web pages, posters and handouts, brochures, teaching materials, instructions, and/or videos. Functioning as a social network, Pinterest users search and collect material that are featured in “virtual pinboards” where users pin images and links, often with commentary, that are then kept private, or shared, and where followers can comment and/or repurpose the pins or boards (Jensen, 2016). Whenever the “Pin It” button is used to select content, the new pin automatically includes a link to the source/board from which the content was located. Analytics, currently only available to businesses using Pinterest, report on the number of impressions and viewers, audience location, as well as pin likes, clicks, and re-pins.

Throughout education, instructors are using pinterest to compile content (BBC Active, 2017); post photographed original and/or adapted ideas (Hussy, 2013; Messner, 2012); for collaboration and professional development (Buzzetto-Hollywood, 2018); to locate and share classroom décor and activities (Lawyer, 2013); for brainstorming and research with, or among, students (Knouse and Abreu, 2016); and to establish collaborative learning communities (Grote-Garcia and Vasinda, 2014).

Jensen (2016) explains that as Web 2.0 reaches its second decade it has become even more creative and curatorial. He clarifies that sites like Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, and Pinterest are built around discourse, commentary, and the sharing and re-sharing of content, which he asserts has positive implications for enhancing the contemporary teaching and learning process. His conclusions were formed following a project where he used Pinterest as a discussion board, peer review module, and information repository with students in a blended classroom.

While Pinterest use has been found at all levels of education, studies have found its usage more common among individual educators than educational organizations (Carpenter, Abrams, and Dunphy, 2016). When assimilated into classroom learning, Knouse and Abreu (2016) observed Pinterest integration to be a motivating experience. Specifically, they explored the implications with foreign language learners who were asked to curate a collection of cultural artifacts and Websites.

Should teacher education programs be incorporating social media into educational technology courses? Grote-Garcia, and Vasinda, (2014) explored this question and concluded that it is crucial to prepare pre-service teachers to integrate social media tools into their practices and especially pointed to the value of Pinterest. They explain that social media tools are an excellent venue for teachers to connect and collaborate. More specifically, they note that Pinterest is one of the most effective, and popular, tools currently available for educators looking to brainstorm for pedagogical ideas and resources.

This presentation reports on the results of a study that has sought to explore the use of Pinterest as a teaching and learning tool. A survey was administered to educators and pre-service teachers in the Mid-Atlantic area. The survey explored social media use; experience with, and interest in Pinterest; and views regarding the value of Pinterest in the teaching, and learning process.

According to the results, most respondents use Pinterest and out of those users 2/3rds use it to enhance their instruction with about ½ using it directly to enhance student instruction. Most of the participating educators indicated an interest in learning more about Pinterest and nearly all participants indicated agreement when asked to respond to a Likert-scaled statement that considered whether Pinterest had the potential to enhance teaching. Agreement was also measured when respondents were asked to indicate their agreement to the statement “Pinterest has the potential to enhance student learning.”

All respondents reported that they regularly use educational technology tools. When asked what educational technology tools they use with students the most popular response was multimedia presentations such as PowerPoint, followed by online tools and Websites, projectors, YouTube, and smartboards. Less popular were learning management systems such as Blackboard and Course Sites, educational social media, and simulations. Very little use was reported for e-portfolios, clickers, blogs and wikis, and traditional discussion forums.

Participants were asked about their current use of Pinterest. The most popular uses of Pinterest reported were exploration and collection of teaching resources followed by food and drinks, classroom ideas, DIY projects, education, decorating ideas, and art/design/crafting. The least popular uses reported were film and entertainment, pets and pet care, outdoor activities, and fashion and style.

The survey asked respondents to consider the usefulness of a variety of applications of Pinterest. Accordingly, respondents reported that Pinterest is the most useful for:

  • collecting and curating information and resources as part of lesson planning,

  • sharing lesson plans,

  • brainstorming,

  • aggregating ideas and resources for projects, and

  • sharing quotes, and study resources.

Pinterest was also deemed useful, albeit to a more moderate extent, for colleague collaboration, class projects, sharing student work, distributing reading lists and materials, and to support units or subjects. Participants reported that Pinterest is not useful for announcements or as a means to inform parents.

In addition to the survey, students enrolled in a required educational technology course titled Integrating Technology Into the Curriculum were asked to create a Pinterest board that they thought could specifically enhance their teaching and then reflect upon the usefulness of both the board and the implications of the Pinterest system. Sixteen pre-service teaching students participated and the boards, question responses, and a reflection were submitted. A number of the participating students specifically curated a collection purposed to enhance their upcoming student teaching experience while others focused on boards that were more forward thinking and collected resources of use to a teacher employed full-time and assigned his/her own classes to create, control, and deliver. The type of boards also varied with some focusing on more generalized classroom and/or teaching resources and others representing specific collections designed to enhance a unique lesson or project. Interestingly, most of the students elected to create more than one board required as part of the course assignment. Finally, all of the participating students reported that they found Pinterest a useful tool that they now plan to use to enhance their teaching and learning.