Blog Post

02. Teaching with Pinterest and Wikipedia


In working with students last semester with Pinterest I realized that they frequently went to Wikipedia to get images and information to put in Pinterest.. I began thinking about how Pinterest and Wikipedia both work together well, but also provide contrasting examples of crowdsourced information.


Adrianne Wadewitz has already written an excellent analysis of Teaching with Wikipedia: the Why, What, and How. I’ll focus therefore on Pinterest based on the latest Pew Report, which may be less familiar to some academics.


  • Pinterest, the 3rd most popular social media site, claims one-third of U.S. women now as users. Women are four times as likely as men to be Pinterest users, giving the site about an 80% female user base. This makes it almost the inverse of Wikipedia in terms of contributors (about 70%) but with far greater reach (there are around 3,000 very active Wikipedians on the English Wikipedia).
  • Pinterest is largely visual (text appended to pins is limited to 500 characters) while Wikipedia is largely textual (although there are efforts to insert more media into Wikipedia). 
  • Wikipedia prides itself on objectivity while Pinterest is content that reflects individual “curators” (scare quote indicate my critique of "curation" language
  • Wikipedia aims at well sourced, referenced information, while Pinterest has only relatively recently included the source URL for images that are pinned.

I crafted what I think of as an iterative Wikipedia and Pinterest loop assignment. Students work back and forth to improve content in both Wikipedia and Pinterest.  


In the process they learn not only historical information, but also engage with 

  • digital narratives 
  • copyright
  • correct citation formats
  • crafting concise prose
  • content "curation"
  • knowledge production for diverse audiences

Example Students in my environmental social movements are being assigned a “digital storyboard” on Women Environmentalists.

Assignment instructions

1. create a board with a minimum of four pins

2. the board must have a clear visual narrative as well as historical coherence

3. select quotes from a range of primary source documents to be illustrated with pins

4. select and source images.

  • At least one image must be “original” pin to pinterest. 
  • At least one pin must be a “corrected” pin. 
  • At least one pin must be correctly attributing an image on an existing pin. 

5. review at least one related Wikipedia entry. Critique/correct it.

6. Write a brief reflection on the differences between working in pinterest and Wikipedia. 



Sample Pinterest Board



My Sample Board illustrates the role of women in environmental movements based on documents from chapter 12,  Urbanizing The Environment In The Twentieth Century in Carolyn Merchant, Major Problems in American Environmental History. I chose to us the theme commemorations of women's achievements (a stamp, a museum, and a monument). Each pin is annotated each with a quote that highlights the role of women. I cited my quotes and used only images not under copyright. I pinned images from outside websites as an additional resource for users. Rachel Carson pin is a correction. I corrected the entry for Alice Hamilton in Wikipedia.





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