Two content curation sites that have been around for a little while but suddenly seem to be very much a part of the web 2.0 zeitgeist are Pinterest and Pearltrees. Needing to be seen as someone who is cutting edge (or as close to the cutting edge as this middle aged Cornish woman can get) I’ve been playing with them both over the past couple of weeks.
Pearltrees describes itself succinctly as: ‘A place to collect, organize and share everything you like on the web’. Predominantly then, it’s another bookmarking tool albeit a visual one, with bookmarks forming as detailed or simple a mind map as the user desires. Great for learners with dyslexia then, and people who like to organise things fluidly and (I loathe this term, but will say it anyway) ‘visually’ rather than in bulleted lists. I’m a bulleted list person who doesn’t believe in visual learners, or the concept of learning styles at all by trade, but signed up feeling oddly excited. I must get out more…
It’s so bloody quick and easy to set up a personal ‘pearl tree’, I initially thought that I must have done something wrong! Simply visit the Pearltrees website, Install the ‘Pearler’ button to your browser (I’ve managed to do this successfully with IE8, Firefox and Safari – not sure about Opera or Chrome yet), click on it whenever a web page / site catches your eye, drop it into your pearl tree (or, if you’re a hyper-organised freaker, a sub-pearltree) and Robert, as ever, is your uncle.
Pinterest is, as the website simply declares: ‘An online pin board where users can organise and share the things they love’. It really is that simple too. Again, a button can be installed on your browser, and as soon as you see an image that catches your eye, clicking on this button will allow you to pin it to one of your pin boards.
Both sites have complementary iPhone / Pad apps, with Pearltrees even allowing the user to install the ‘Pearler’ button on their iOS browser’s toolbar. However, as yet neither is available for Android phones or tablets. (Incidentally, I own a BlackBerry, but won’t even be looking to see if RIM is going to produce or buy-in OS-specific apps for both sites. As BlackBerry seems to be losing ground in the smartphone and tablet race, I won’t be holding my breath either!)
How then can these sites be used in education? Via Pearltrees, friends can team up with to view and add to specific sets or sub sets of your Pearl tree and other users can comment on the web sites you’ve ‘pearled’. The same goes for Pinterest, with other ‘pinners’ able to contribute to your virtual pin boards (should you so desire) and comment on and re-pin to their own boards the items you have already pinned. So the whole sharing, ‘spreading the word’ and collaboration thing is there. And as well as collaboration these sites both provide quick but dynamic ways of gathering evidence, could be a way to gather one’s thoughts in preparation for an assignment, may provide opportunities for peer assessment, project work / organisation or even, perhaps, presentations? I’m also wondering whether they could be used as ePortfolios in some way?
Thoughts: and may I be struck down by lightening for sweeping, possibly misogynist comments…but Pinterest currently seems to be very much a girl thing – lots of pin boards about shoes, fashion, baking, etc. Could this affect its popularity or public perception? I’m only saying…