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Getting Started with Pinterest

Pinterest, a social bookmarking site that allows you to collect, organize and share information you find on the web, provides a visually-rich way to share information with students. Though most “pinners,” or users, use Pinterest to organize photos and links of their favorite wedding dresses, chicken recipes and inspirational quotes, Pinterest can also be a helpful tool to use in the classroom. Pinterest offers an interactive, unique way to share resources with students, organize course-related content and visually represent course materials.

Terms That are Helpful to Know

Before getting started, it is important to understand these key Pinterest terms:

  • Board: When you find a webpage you want to save and share in Pinterest, you “pin” it to a “board.” A board is where you store your saved webpages. It is common to have boards based on themes, like social media in education, gardening or my favorite books. You can create an unlimited number of boards on an unlimited number of themes.
  • Pin: When you pin a webpage to your board, you select 1) the image from that webpage you would like added to your board and 2) the board that you want the image to display on. Each pin displays as an image on a board. There is an opportunity to provide a brief description of that pin before adding it to your board.
  • Repin: While browsing others’ boards, if you come across an image you want to include on one of your own boards, you can repin the image. Adding the image to your own board means that you have “repinned” it.
  • Follow: You can subscribe to another user’s boards. You can “follow all” of their boards or just “follow” particular ones.
  • Pinterest Feed: If you follow another user’s boards, you will be notified every time they pin something new. All new pins are automatically updated and fed into your Pinterest feed.

Pinterest as a Tool for Teaching

Before incorporating Pinterest in your classroom, it is important to understand what function you want the tool to fulfill. Do you want Pinterest to facilitate discussion among students, or do you want it to provide helpful information to your classes?

If you wish to enhance first-year students’ experiences in your Elon 101 class, you could compile a board of online resources, such as the library’s hours of operation or the Career Service’s homepage, onto one board. To see an example of this, visit Kelly Reimer’s Elon 101 Pinterest board.

If you would like to facilitate class participation in your psychology class, you could have students develop a board that consists of a collection of resources based on current events, a class topic or a research assignment.

If you are teaching a multimedia journalism course, you could create a board that merges different disciplines together. For example, you could include pins of photography, videography and writing tips onto one board. For a marketing class, you could include pins of successful marketing strategies, different advertising campaigns and video interviews with CEOs onto one board.

You could also:

If you are still unsure of what to pin, follow other educators on Pinterest for some inspiration. For additional advice and help on how to make Pinterest relevant to your courses, visit http://www.onlineuniversities.com/ways-educators-use-pinterest.

Lynda.com, the software training and video tutorial library, also provides a helpful introduction to Pinterest.

Anatomy of Pinterest

Pinterest screenshot

  • User: Staley Library is the user. They have 14 boards with 555 webpages pinned to boards.
  • Board: A collection of pins associated with a theme. In this case, they have a board with a theme of Teaching Tools & Technology, and they have 18 pins on the board.
  • Follow All: Clicking on the “Follow All” button will subscribe you to all of the user’s boards. You will see when they update current boards and add new ones to their collection.
  • Follow: If you are interested in one particular board of a user, you can click the “Follow” button at the bottom of that board. You will see updates for that one collection of pins.

When you click on a board, you see all of the images that have been pinned on that board. This is an example of a board called “Teaching Tools & Technologies.” When you roll your mouse over an image 3 options appear at the top of the image.

Pinboard example

  • Repin: This will add the image to one of your boards. The user who first pinned that image gets credit, and the original source is maintained.
  • Like: When you like a pin, it is added to your “Likes” section of your profile. This is different from repining because you cannot categorize it under one of your boards.
  • Comment: You can engage in a conversation about the pin.

OK…Ready to Get Started?

To get started using Pinterest, follow these step-by-step instructions:

  1. Create an Account: Go to pinterest.com. You’ll see the Join Pinterest button. Fill out the required information to sign up.
  2. Customize your profile: Upload a photo and add a description of either yourself or the purpose of your account.
  3. Browse others’ pins: Use the search feature to find categories you may be interested in and browse others’ boards. Follow users or their boards.
  4. Start pinning: Pin a website or create a new board by clicking “Add+” in the upper right-hand corner of your profile.
  5. Make pinning easier: Install the “Pin It” button to your browser, and download the Pinterest app for your mobile device.
  6. Connect with others: Allow other users to contribute to your boards through your account settings. Link your boards to your blog, Twitter account or Facebook account. Comment on others’ pins.
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This Week in Tweets

Happy Friday! In case you missed it, here’s what @elontechnology and @elonteaching have been tweeting this week. If you have yet to begin using Twitter, learn how to get started.

Also posted in Teaching and Learning, Technology@Elon, Twitter, Web 2.0 | Comments Off on This Week in Tweets

Getting started with Twitter


“Tweets” are short, 140-character messages that are sent out into cyberspace. Once you set up a Twitter account, you can Tweet as much or as little as you like and follow your friends, companies, news sources and more.

Terms that are helpful to know

  • Tweets: Twitter is the web site you are using to post messages; these messages are called “tweets”. So when you hear someone say that they’ve tweeted about something, or “Did you see my tweet?”, what they mean is that they’ve posted a message (tweet) on Twitter.
  • Following/Followers: The whole point of twitter is to share information with others. If you “follow” someone that means that you’ve subscribed to their twitter posts (when they post a tweet, you’ll see it). If someone is following you (they’ve subscribed to your twitter posts), they are one of your “followers”.
  • Twitter Stream: When you login to your twitter account, you’ll see messages from all of the people that you are following. This is your twitter stream. If you’re familiar with Facebook, this is akin to the Facebook “wall”.

Anatomy of a Tweet

Take a look at the picture below. This is a screenshot of a tweet that recently appeared on Elon’s Twitter stream. Since you are limited to posting 140 characters, Twitter has created ways to fit more information into less space!

  • Tweet Branding: In the example above, you see a picture of Elon’s mascot (the Phoenix) along with “ElonPhoenix” at the top of the tweet. So anyone can tell relatively quickly that this tweet was posted by ElonPhoenix… thus, successfully branding their tweets!
  • @username (e.g., @elonalumni): creates a link to that user in the post. So if you clicked on @elonalumni, you go to their user information. Putting @username in your tweet is called “tagging”. In the above post @elonalumni and @ElonPhoenix were tagged.
  • RT: Re-tweeting, or re-posting someone else’s tweet, is a good way to avoid recreating the wheel. It’s also good tweeting etiquette – never copy someone else’s tweet and post it as your own!
  • Shortened URLs (e.g., http://ow.ly/65o9E): You don’t want your 140 character limit taken up by a long web address! When you post a tweet with a long URL, Twitter may offer to shorten the URL for you.
  • #hashtag: Although the example above doesn’t include a “hashtag”, you will see #hashtags from time to time. Know that hashtags are great ways to categorize tweets. If you click on a hashtag (e.g., #technology), you’ll be taken to other tweets that have that tag as well. It’s a great way to find information quickly (or categorize your own tweets)!

Ok… Read­­y to Get Started?

  1. Create an Account: Go to http://twitter.com. You’ll see “New to Twitter” prominently on the screen. Fill out the required information to sign up. Twitter does a great job guiding you through the process. Be sure to add a picture or graphic so that you can take advantage of branding opportunities!
  2. Find People to Follow: Twitter will make recommendations for you to follow based upon your account information. Take a look at some of Twitter’s recommendations, or find some on your own by searching for names or topics. (Take a look at some of our suggestions below.)
  3. Tweet Away! You’re ready to start tweeting! What should you tweet about? That’s up to you! Many people will tell you to avoid things like “I just headed to the grocery store.” Ok, yes, that’s telling people what’s happening, but is it really all that interesting?! Think about how you want to use twitter. Twitter is much more than just a way to share what you are doing day-to-day – it’s a great way to share information that you’ve found that could be interesting to others. So, let’s say you just read a great article that you want to share with others – that’s a perfect tweet (e.g., “Thought-provoking article from @TechRepublic on Leadership Trends http://url.com”).

Recommended Higher Education Twitter Feeds to Follow

Finding people or organizations to follow isn’t as difficult as you may think. Twitter is no longer considered a new technology, thus many people/orgs have Twitter accounts. Think of colleagues that you admire or organizations that interest you. Search for them using Twitter’s search feature – chances are many of them will have Twitter accounts! Once you find a Twitter feed that you like, take a look at who they are following to get some more ideas. Here are a few to get you started:

  • @chronicle (Chronicle of Higher Education)
  • @educause (Educause)
  • @elonteaching (Elon Teaching and Learning — ok, shameless plug!)
  • @elontechnology (Elon Technology – another shameless plug!)
  • @GdnHigherEd (Guardian Higher Education Network)
  • @HuffPostCollege (Huffington Post – College Edition)


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University’s cell phone photography class teaches more than just how to take pretty pictures

A new cell phone photography class at Immaculata University, a suburban Philadelphia university, focuses on both the quality of the images and the ethical responsibilities that come with taking and publishing them. Read more of this article from the StarTribune.com and consider how you have been using images and where you have posted them.

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