On Teaching Fashion: The Merits of Pintrest

I am always eager to incorporate new technology into my classroom.  However, the rate at which new sites and apps appear can be dizzying.  Each seems to have a slight learning curve.  Coupled with a hectic schedule and grading, learning to navigate a new “extra” might not be enticing.  But what if it could make your lectures easier to compile?

After months of debate and loathing, I decided to join Pinterest.  I couldn’t – and didn’t want to – wrap my mind around another new thing.  The thought of more interfaces, platforms, and bombardment of images seemed like a cruel joke.  Yet the avid fans kept singing their praises.  My contempt slowly melted.  After signing up – and being wait-listed – I decided I would just use the site as a procrastination tool.  My invitation to join remained unopened for several weeks.  (Perhaps my ego was bruised from being forced to wait . . .)

Now that I have an account, I find Pinterest highly useful for creating interesting lectures.  Members create boards based on themes, and “pin” images from all around the internet.  Interested in the history of underwear?  Erin Dahl, professor of art history and fibers, has 701 gorgeous images on her board.

1891 Corset, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Via History of Underwear by Erin Dahl.

There are thousands of boards, pins, and people, all of which you can search through by keyword.  No more wondering where to find images for your lectures.  Simply search, and save to your own pin board.  Voilà!  What an amazing and easy way to prepare for your next course.  Each time I visit the site, I look forward to teaching history of costume again.  I can’t help but realize how much time Pinterest could have saved me if I had joined earlier.

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  • Christina May 18, 2012 09.01 am

    I always though Pinterest was perfect for the class room and group projects.
    Especially since everything pinned should have a reference.
    plus you can see where everyone gets their information and inspiration.
    Great board!

  • Joy D. May 18, 2012 01.27 pm

    I use this awesome resource to compile photos for posts and expand on it as I see them. This connects readers with primary sources. WIth this new social media era I believe primary sources are attractive to readers.

  • jacqueline @ thehourglassfiles May 22, 2012 12.21 pm

    Ah, but one can’t talk about Pinterest from an academic perspective without bringing into question it’s ethics. The site removes itself of all liability and pins (pun intended) it all on the user. That’s a bit of dangerous water.

    As an academic, sources should be of utmost concern. However, users of Pinterest often do not credit correctly. It’s really easy to loose the creator or copyright holder in the process of pinning and repinning. And incorrect attributions and descriptions abound. I’ve seen many images of historic fashion credited to wrong decades.

    Lastly, does Pinterest play by Fair Use standards? In my opinion, mostly the answer is no. What about the rights of the creator of an image? What if the creator doesn’t want their image shared? Many people do not understand that images on the internet still have a copyright and that they aren’t free to be used however you want to. These are really problematic questions to think about regarding Pinterest.

    I’m not flat out against Pinterest, but I have a problem with a lot of what is on there and how people are using it. All scholars should be very vigilant with the way they are using it, that the images they pin and/or repin are accurately credited, and that the creator doesn’t mind those images being copied and shared.


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