Friday, March 23, 2012

Pinterest and Faculty - Classroom Pinning

I recently finished an article from Mashable on Teachers Pin with Their Students and it made me think of ways that faculty might use Pinterest in a classroom setting.  Since I only guest lecture, and don't have a classroom, a true test would have to be left to others (hint: Roel, Patricia) to create a real life example of Pinterest classroom collaboration.  Still, it brought to mind some ideas about how that might work and some of the potential benefits (pitfalls?) in a classroom setting. 

Years ago, I heard about Delicious for social bookmarking and the idea of Delicious is a great fit for classrooms.  I use Delicious to create and store bookmarks and bookmark sets so that I don't have to continuously search Google to find something that I came across before.  It uses tags well, and it's functional for me to use.  Its really only lacking one thing....its boring to look at!  I'm just a graphical person by nature, and I need visual reminders and reinforcements.  To me, Pinterest fills that gap.

In my mind, I can imagine a collaborative classroom.  My 101 class has an account, the boards are on topics that we will be studying.  For each board, my students are collaborators on that board.  Their assignment is to find resources that are related to that topic.  However, I would want to impose some guidelines:
  1. They have to read each resource and evaluate it much like a peer-review process (learning moment when I explain to them what peer-review is)
  2. Students need to add or comment on the pins with their remarks (teaching moment - talk about adding to a conversation professionally)
  3. Students if they like should repin, or "like" a pin to teach them how they can share resources to their networks (understanding reach, influence and outreach models)

Maybe at the end of the semester, I'll have them write a paper and they can use the information they "researched" through the Pinterest collaboration to understand how to build a bibliographic reference set.  I can of course teach them these things in the traditional way, but maybe there is some value in utilizing some of this technology to both teach and learn?  In the process of doing something fun (pinning) maybe they will learn more about the very topic we are studying, but also about content curation of resources, or understanding what is good, science-based information, and what is not?  Perhaps they will uncover resources that lead them to new agencies, or job opportunities?  Maybe it will educate an audience they never have had a chance to reach out to before? 

I can see ways in which this technology (not specifically Pinterest perhaps) can make a connection to our students, maybe it can even teach us a few new things.  Most exciting to me is the opportunity to spice up the classroom and motivate students to look for resources, evaluate, and simulate that knowledge on a topic.  When I'm looking for a new bag of tricks, this one might fit the bill.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Measuring Your Pin-fluence

I was looking around for ways to see how far your "reach" might be with Pinterest, much like you can analyze Facebook and Twitter with Klout.  I came across a site called Pinpuff which opened to beta testing earlier in 2011 and to users in February of 2012.  The basic premise for measure is followers, pins, repins and outbound clicks.  In addition, there is a monetary assignment of value for including sites that "sell" things like Ebay or Etsy and thus for educational use, the monetary value is going to be relatively lower.   However, it was an easy way to look at some of the reach for the Pin's I've been experimenting with, in addition to giving me some summary statistics that I was having to manually calculate on Pinterest.  Pinpuff does appear to cater to marketing for brands, but some of the tools are useful for others looking for some measure of their reach.  The lack of description about the reach beyond the summary of pins, repins, and follows will make it hard to compare Pinpuff to Klout or other reach measures.  However, since Pinterest itself is new and still changing, just having summary information is helpful.

I tested the tool on both accounts I use and the results for reach varied with the descriptions of the scores giving me some feedback on how to improve those scores.  One obvious difference in my scoring was related to the activity level on each account.  Like Facebook, I see the connection to my activity and my Pinterest board stream.  The more pinners you follow, the less likely you are to see their pins unless you check on a regular basis.  Much like a news feed, your pins can shuffle down the live feed easily.  What I seemed to suffer from on both accounts was my reach score.  I don't connect my Pinterest to my Facebook or Twitter accounts and therefore, I only really share within the Pinterest community which accounts for my low reach score.  I haven't built a strategy yet to share out to my other networks yet, although it's easy to do by linking accounts.  I haven't found that line between too much Pin sharing and too little. 

Interestingly, my colleague Bob Bertsch found that you can check any users reach by adding their user name to the end of the string  Thus, if you know their user name, you can compare some reach stats.  

Today, my Pinfluence stands at 37, guess I have some work to do!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Webinars of Interest in March

Looking for some ways to S-T-R-E-T-C-H  your mind in March?  Tune into some of these webinars offered this month through eXtension Learn.  Every one of them is free, and will be recorded for later viewing (same link will list the recording after the date).  No sign up required, enter rooms as a guest.
  1. March 16, 2012 1:00 pm CDT Getting the most from Facebook Insights - Facebook provides users with free metrics on activity and users of your page. This session will review the metrics that Facebook provides, called Insights. Focus will be on how this information can be used to improve content and engagement.
  2.  March 22, 2012 11:00 am CDT - Pinterest for CoPs, County Agents, Specialist, and Outreach Educators This session will focus on how Cooperative Extension (and other outreach and education oriented organizations) can use Pinterest to provide a platform for guiding audiences to meaningful information or resources.
  3. March 22, 2012 12 pm CDT - Improve Learning with Instructionally Sound Power Point Presentations.  When most people create a PowerPoint presentation, they are actually hampering learning. We will explore how to improve your presentation to maximize learning and understanding from your audience.
  4. March 22, 2012 1:00 pm CDT - Twitter: measuring your reach and engagement.  This session provides an introduction to figuring out if you are extending your programmatic reach through Twitter. 
 These, and more webinars can be found on the eXtension Learn site.