Street Haven Learning Centre is using Pinterest in their classroom

March 19th, 2012 by Monika Jankowska-Pacyna

Pinterest has been the new buzzword in the community and at large as the newest star of social media.  The more familiar forms of social media, e.g Facebook and Twitter have had limited potential for application as an educational tool. We have watched discussions about Pinterest shift from its use as a way to collect images and manifest creative brainstorms to its potential use in the educational field. We have seen a similar evolution of its use within our organization.

A staff member was using Pinterest socially for herself, after a friend had turned her on to it. When we began discussing how to get our clients talking about their goals and dreams for the future, the conversation naturally turned to using visuals to help identify their aspirations. Alongside this, we’ve been having an ongoing dialogue about how to integrate the new OALCF curriculum into the classroom. Pinterest seemed to be a perfect opportunity to meld several competencies into a single activity that would be fun and engaging.

Click here to explore Street Haven Learning Centre’s Pinterest site.

We have found that for learners who are focusing on foundational skills, that Pinterest has been a user-friendly and easy way for them to communicate visually the things they have difficulty articulating verbally. Additionally Pinterest has been a great way for us to get women comfortable with computers and prepared to learn digital skills in a more structured format. Pinterest distracts them from the overwhelming presentation of a new language, new set of tools and new vocabulary. It allows them to navigate intuitively and learn without knowing it. There is a wide variation in the age and ethnicity of our clients. The idea of “collaging” online seems to be a chord that resonates with all of them, regardless of their initial hesitancy to establish an online presence.

There have been some challenges with getting us going on Pinterest. The age differences of our clients means that some of the younger women, who have grown up surrounded by digital technology, and have already established an online presence, were more comfortable using and learning on computers than our older clients. Out of this, we saw supportive bonds develop between our learners as some of our younger clients stepped alongside facilitators to help other learners navigate the web.

We have focused on using Pinterest as a tool to draw out our learners’ unspoken desires and interests. It has been a vehicle for defining and evaluating long term goals as well as providing a tangible source of inspiration that they can return to as they work towards completing their goals. Pinterest’s ability to create multiple boards, allowed us to get them started with suggested boards titled: “Goals”, “Books to Read”, “Wisdom and Inspiration”, and “I am…”.  This is not the only capacity in which we envision them being able to use Pinterest. We are continuing to discuss potential applications for Pinterest in academic lesson plans and for the learners in a more personally defined way.

We hope that this provides a source of inspiration for how to integrate Pinterest and other social media tools into literacy learning.  We look forward to seeing how Pinterest is used by others in the literacy field and how the phenomenon of utilizing social media in the classroom continues to evolve.

Debra Barrett is a Program Manager and Nabilah Rawji is an LBS Assistant at Street Haven Learning Centre. It was Nabilah who inspired Debra and helped others to use Pinterest in the classroom.

The Street Haven Learning Centre offers supportive environments where women have an opportunity to learn at their own pace and accomplish their goals. The Centre provides computer access, training, pre-employment readiness and essential skills development that enable women to move on to further education, training, employment and personal independence.  Basic literacy classes, tutoring, computer lab and training and job readiness support are all available.

Street Haven Learning Centre