A little over a year ago, I took a position new to me in a new school district as Assistive Technology Coordinator. I had used several different varieties of AT with students in the past and was excited to learn about other AT tools that my new school district already had in their inventory. Now that I was going to be the "go-to" person for all things AT I felt the need to create a system (preferably categorized) which would provide me with a list of tools in my toolbox. So I created a list of what we currently had on hand. But wait...what was I going to do with all the tools mentioned on blogs and newsletters that I had read about but didn't have on hand and wanted to remember for a rainy day? I started bookmarking websites with products that I might need to purchase some day if the need for that tool should arise. But that didn't solve my problem with having a central location to scan through "AAC resources" or "apps that are switch accessible." So I created an excel sheet and categorized tools; started adding images to provide myself with a visual...what a mess! And too time consuming.
I met with my district's Technology Instructional Specialist and asked her how in the world she kept all these tools/ideas accessible to herself and she said, "Pinterest!"
Pinterest? I had a personal Pinterest account. Like most people, I had made some wish-list boards of products that one day I would like to buy for gifts or ideas of how to decorate my house. But associating it with work? I hadn't really thought of using it in that way.
I set out to create a Pinterest account for professional purposes. I created category boards, pinned the websites of the tools that I already had in my tool bag, and started pinning tools that I didn't have access to but might want to purchase in the future. I started pinning blog posts that contained wonderful information on how to implement tools and instruction into the classroom. What resulted was an immediate, easy, user-friendly way to keep myself organized. I also saw another benefit; many of the teachers that request consultation meetings with me for AT needs do a great job of articulating the environment and task that a student is struggling with...they also do a great job of explaining the tools they have already tried. But many teachers always end with one common statement. "We know this student could use some assistive technology. We just have no idea what's out there." That's when I open up one of my Pinterest boards. I can provide a visual of some products that we can trial with their student, links to videos that demonstrate how to use the tool, train on the tool, set up the tool, etc.
Instead of flipping through several vendor catalogs or trying to remember a website with a web tool that I read about three months ago, now I just open up my Pinterest account and start browsing my boards. Regardless of your role in education, Pinterest is a great place to store those great ideas you know you will have to access someday. But before you get started, there are a few things you need to consider:
Tips to keep in mind when creating a professional Pinterest account:
Always pin from an original source. I don't re-pin anything onto my professional boards. When I click on a tool I want to directly link to the website that sells that tool or blog providing information on the tool.
Be careful with images. Occasionally I will run into a blog or website that I want to add to a board but it doesn't supply an image that I can pin. In these circumstances, I either directly contact that company or person and ask them for an image I can use with their permission or I search the web for a copyright free image to attach to my pin.
Put thought into pin descriptions. When I pin a website or tool that I don't' currently have a need for but might in the future, I try to label the pin with a phrase or statement that will adequately remind myself later down the road as to what features this tool has to offer.
Learn from others. Before I started creating my own boards I checked out other Pinterest users who were also using their accounts as a professional resource. I collected ideas on how to categorize my boards and arrange them into a layout that would accommodate my needs. Here are some Pinterest pages that I took a good hard look at before creating my own:
Lauren S. Enders, MA, CCC-SLP pinterest.com/lasenders/
Lesley Karpiuk, Technology Instructional Specialist pinterest.com/IHeartEdTech/
Check out my boards for AT tools, apps, AAC resources and more at http://www.pinterest.com/ATgirl/