What’s the Big Deal about Pinterest?

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 by Elaine Mulligan
Project Director, National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY)

Why on earth would a disseminator need to learn about Pinterest? Isn’t that the silly site that young folks use to create dream weddings and share recipes?

Oh no, dear friend (and fellow social media resister), it’s so much more than that. Pinterest is the fastest-growing social media site and is already the third most-visited social networking site (CNN, 2012). More than just a wedding-planning site, Pinterest taps into the power of the visual to draw audiences into content. Pictures compel, catch the eye, spark the interest (hence Pinterest’s name!), and serve as the link to the content. Pinterest has over 16 million users worldwide, and it’s growing like crazy. If you serve educators or families, you have a great friend and outreach tool in Pinterest.

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Pinterest for Families

Parents of students with disabilities are always looking for—and collecting–helpful resources. Pinterest gives them an easy, engaging way to share those resources with other parents. With Pinterest, parents can group information with online bulletin boards called pinboards. So, families can create individual pinboards about special education, behavior resources, learning tools, and more without the bother of 3-ringed binders, accordion folders, or color-coded tabs. They can also create boards of their favorite resources to share with other parents, using the vividness of images to capture their attention and carry them to the content.

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Pinterest for Teachers

Did you ever notice all of the bulletin boards and posters covering the walls of most classrooms? Teachers have been part of the bulletin board culture for decades. Teachers post examples of good work and reminders about rules and procedures all over the walls to help students stay on track. Visual displays of information are a familiar way of learning for most educators, so it is no wonder that teachers have latched on to Pinterest.

Look at any board on Pinterest, and you’ll see the similarities. Pinboards provide a virtual space for teachers to share activities, lesson plans, and ideas with other teachers around the world. In the busy world of teaching, teacher pinboards offer a way to share without taking time away from instruction.

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Pinterest for Technical Assistance Providers

With just a little effort, you can create visually interesting, content-rich boards of your web-based resources. The “Pin It” button allows you to grab images along with links to your content source. Simply create a board on a particular topic, and pin all of your center’s resources on that topic to the board. Some of NICHCY’s most popular pinboards include our IEP Resources, Transition, and Behavior Resources, which are collections of pages from our website (with a few other sources thrown in).

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Getting Started on Pinterest

If you’re not already on Pinterest, you’ll need to do a few things to get started:

1. Request an invitation to Pinterest, either from a friend or from Pinterest itself (there’s a “Request an Invite” right on the home page of Pinterest).

2. Learn some basic information about getting started from Pinterest’s Help page |  http://pinterest.com/about/help/

3. Install the “Pin It” button on your browser to be able to “pin” images | http://pinterest.com/about/goodies/

4. Decide how public you want your Pinterest activity to be. You can allow Pinterest to post all of your pinning activity on Facebook or not. Learn how at http://pinterest.com/about/help/ under Profile and Account settings.

5. (Optional) Learn how to use Pinterest for sharing products or resources from this YouTube video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKQ5MZlgmAs&feature=related

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Create a Pinboard

Once you’re set up, creating pinboards is easy. Take 3 minutes to watch as we create a new NICHCY pinboard:

Video created by NICHCY to show how to create a pinboard.

 http://youtu.be/NjUWFZalz58

Transcript of the video:
http://nichcy.org/transcript-pinterest

You can see that it’s quite simple to create theme-based pinboards of resources. There’s no need to create new content; you simply bundle existing resources in a new format that allows for more visual engagement.

We’ve even created a Pinterest version of the TACC’s Technical Assistance & Dissemination Network “placemat” to allow quick access to project websites. We love the TACC’s paper placemat that shows all the TA&D projects, but our pinboard lets us go right to the project we want with one click.

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Resources for Getting Started on Pinterest

You may already be on Pinterest, but if you’re not, here are a few resources below to help you get started. Good luck, have fun!

Hickey, J. (2012). How to use Pinterest for business. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKQ5MZlgmAs&feature=related

Mashable. (2012). Interest in Pinterest reaches a fever pitch [Infographic]. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2012/04/29/pinterest-interest/

MDG Advertising. (2012). A marketer’s guide to Pinterest. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfyByLwiIe8

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NOTICE: The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) is no longer in operation. Our funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) ended on September 30, 2013. Our website and all its free resources will remain available until September 30, 2014.