Day 5: Amanda Diochon's Pinning to Curate Collections
Name: Dr Amanda Diochon
Area/Discipline: Environmental Geology/Terrestrial Biogeochemistry/Soil Science
Curating a collection of current events in the media that demonstrates course concepts in everyday life has traditionally taken the form of a hardcopy scrapbook that ultimately generates waste and can be completed the night before the due date. I participated in a social-media workshop on using apps to engage students, and I thought it would be an interesting technique to incorporate into my toolbox as long as I could protect the privacy of my learners during the application of the technique.
Using Pinterest, I created a private board that is only visible to members of the class. This allowed me to add students, knowing that it would be visible only within our classroom experience and not outside of it (i.e. not in a public space).*
I then worked through the benefit of our board with the class (i.e. creates community, expands scope, low footprint, accountability) and explained how we will use it during the course to create a curated collection of relevant and current events to show how much of our lives are entwined with environmental geology. Students participated by “pinning” news articles they read -- items that related to the theme of “How does geology impact our lives and how do we impact the earth?” Each week, they identified one item or event that caught their attention and wrote about why they chose that news item, the geologic setting of the event, and what we could learn from the event moving forward in terms of minimizing negative impacts on society and the environment. They posted their responses to the weekly discussion board in D2L.
The activity helped students build accountability, practice writing skills, and critically assess media while minimizing their environmental footprint. Over time, the news board grew, expanding the course's range of news and subject-related content while students applied critical thinking to the use and sharing of media.
* If a learner opted not to create an account in Pinterest, they were required to submit a news piece or journal article each week to my private email address to meet the minimum requirement, but then they could not benefit from the pins/shares of other learners as they needed an account for this.
How I Use It
I create the Pinterest board at the start of the term and then, once the add/drop deadline has passed, we start the activity.
- Students with a current Pinterest account provide me with their details when the activity is first introduced, and the remaining learners are asked to create an account (if they opt out they will be provided an alternative traditional academic exercise at this point).
- The criteria is reviewed: each student must pin 20 items over the semester* (based on how many weeks are in a month/term). Ideally, pins occur weekly.
- The pin series appears by date posted so all current/recent pins are at the top of the board.
- Students are given some flexibility on when they use Pinterest, but the board is tied to the journaling activity and discussion (in D2L), so the activity benefits students the most if it is done as part of a weekly schedule.
- I monitor the board and evaluate their posts to the discussion thread each week to give them feedback on what they are doing well and what they can improve.
- Students were expected to pin 20 articles by the end of the course to get full marks. Each pin was worth a percentage of the full mark.
Feedback from Learners
Generally speaking, students appreciate the lower environmental footprint of this activity and the interactive nature of the activity itself. It is closely aligned with the learning outcomes of the course, and the feedback is timely, which is appreciated. Some students have found Pinterest to be a useful tool in other courses, while others have found that they get distracted by other interests that are highlighted on the platform.
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
I feel that this technique supports this goal by providing the opportunity to think critically about how we consume and produce goods and services. Through a review of current events, students are exposed to the impacts of production and consumption on society and the environment as well as the inequalities that exist across the globe. My hope is that this experience provides a space for reflection on their own patterns of behavior around production and consumption and creates an opportunity for change.
A short task to challenge you!
In the spirit of the season and this goal, let’s curate a collection of links to products and/or services that you consume because of their ethical and/or sustainable production practices (locally produced, upcycled items, etc). This might also provide some inspiration for holiday gifting!
One Final Task
Is this something you can use in your classroom? How might you utilize it? If you share your results somewhere on social media, please let us know by using the hashtag #12tech21LUDay5.