November 17

Online “Pinning”

For quite a few months now, I’ve resisted the pintrest craze. Of course, like every new web app that comes out, I can’t help myself but to go online and sign up for an account. Of course, sometimes I use the account for all of five minutes, and then realise that nothing that I’m doing quite at this moment fits in with what the system does. That was me with Pintrest. I’ve sat back for the last few months slowly, as I’ve seen other people using it coming around to the idea that it might be kind of cool. For collecting pictures, or web links.  Or curating ideas. Great.

So today, I had to put together a list of tutorials for my year 11 Industrial Tech class for next year. They don’t know it yet, but we’re going to be designing a short animation, for placing before a movie, like the samples here. What I really need them to know is after effects. And rather than having a list of tutorials, I thought it might be good to create a concept board of different places that they could go. Like many other things, like recipes, and my to-do list, Pintrest has been rolling around in my brain for a while and I thought that this might be the time that I pull it out.

To my credit, I spent about an hour or so, after re-loggin in, looked shamefully at my two things that I had pinned since drawing, and with excitement created four or five boards for stuff that I’m currently curating….ipad apps, elearning websites, and of course, my after effects tutorials. I installed the “Pin it” button on my browser, then spent some time reorganising my links, realising that if I could pin stuff, I could then delete some stuff off my favourites. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m an avid delicious user for my links, and since Alan November came out to our school to talk to staff in September, I’ve been importing all my links over to Diigo (okay, I haven’t touched them since). But what I really wanted was something visual.

It took me about an hour and a half to realise that Pintrest is still not for me. Firstly, there seems to be no customisation of how it looks. Rows and rows of images, I’m sorry, are in no way inspiring. Then, as I tried to pin stuff, I realised that the only thing that you can really pin is images. And some websites that do have images, are just advertising, so it looks like you’re pinning a whole heap of advertisements together for people to look at.  Yes, it re-directs back to that site, but if the original site that you want to bookmark doesn’t have any images in it, it won’t pin it. What type of site doesn’t have any images, you say? Well, actually, a lot of images are now loaded through CSS or javascript….or anything that is run by a programming language. Or websites that are video tutorials. So, you actually can’t pin anything that doesn’t have an image in it…and most of these things are those things that are highly interactive, which is the kid of stuff that I’d want to pin.

So, I needed a different solution. I checked my trusty google and found some other options:

ZooTools was pretty good, it worked easily. An easy sign up process and a nice interface. More importantly, you could save pages that didn’t have any images. I spent some time playing around with this and came up with a half decent collection. I have of course, now discovered that I am extraordinarily picky and didn’t like that you had to click on the image to see the link, and then click onto the “referrer” in order to get to the website. Most of my kids aren’t going to realise what that means. It does however, look quite nice, and embeds well, which was another of the requirements that I had floating around the back of my brain.
I then checked out Larry Ferlazzo’s blog post about Online Virtual Corkboards. I ruled out his first suggestion, Wallwisher, straight away for what I wanted. Wallwisher is a fantastic resource where you can share a wall and get student input on questions, thoughts, etc. I use it quite a bit in my teaching, but it wasn’t quite what I wanted in terms of posting links. Essentially, I decided, that I wanted a created website where I could add post it notes for comments, where it looked well designed, I could post what I wanted, and change images and descriptions.

CorkboardMe had potential, but then it said I couldn’t embed videos. Although I dont’ really want to do that now, I do want something that was going to go the distance, and expand with me when I wanted to try something else. So I didn’t actually even try that out. I’d love to know in the comments whether people had tried it or not.

LinoIt was my next experiment, and I quite liked that, but again…I quite liked the look, but it didn’t really do what I wanted.


My next experiment was with And here is where I finally hit the jackpot. It was easy to do. IT really looked, when I pinned something, like I had taken a polaroid and thrown it on a table, which was pretty much exactly what I wanted. You could move, resize, rotate, and change the pictures that were pictured in the preview, and even add pictures that were not on the website. Or, if you didn’t have any pictures on the website, you could post the link without a picture, or do what I did with the creative cow link below, and just grab a related picture from somewhere else (of course being careful to ensure that you’re not breaking copyright. I then realised that I could add notes with sticky notes, stickers to make it look cooler, or to emphasize different things, and even embed.

There is also a great feature called “spaces” which has some interesting templates. I think I’m going to use the calendar for my next Project planning meeting, so that I can put notes or links with checkpoints within the projects listed on them. This way, all project planners could collaborate in the space. As I’m writing this, I’ve also just realised that there’s a Prezi-style frame feature where you can guide people through parts of your corkboard in order to follow a sequence, an option to drop google docs onto it AND an integrated google image search. I’m alot more impressed with this. See the finished pinboard here