Pinterest and Visual Research

imageIn Celine Perron’s “Design for The Performing Arts” class, students learn about scene design construction, lighting, and the nuances that make a design effective. The course demands that students think visually, a new concept for many which posed some challenges for Celine. How could she help students find the connection between the text book, the visual research she assigned, and the visual impact of their own scene design? At first she went the traditional route:

“For the first project they did visual research on their own, the traditional way. It was important that the image wasn’t pixelated because they would fail. It had to be a high resolution and they had to give me the site address. So instead of them showing me the actual image, I had all these links and it became very cumbersome on my part to click on all the links and try to figure out what they were seeing. And there was no annotation and so I still didn’t know why they were looking at that image.”

Without this information, Celine had a difficult time determining if students understood the relationship between the visual they submitted and subtleties such as the focus of the lighting, the intentional placement of objects, and the contrast of the background with the foreground. Students, it seemed, were having some difficulty making the connection from the theoretical to the design.

”I had to find a better way for them (students) to find the connection between visual research and what they’re designing. I’ve been searching for that solution for a while…. And then one of my students from my 493 class introduced me to Pinterest just for social purposes. And then it hit me, this is what I need to do! This is what I’ve been looking for.”

Pinterest is the digital version of the community bulletin board where people ‘pin’ flyers, announcements or other things of interest. Forbes Magazine describes it this way: “Users employ a “bookmarklet” button installed in their browser to pin images to virtual boards, usually according to a particular theme or purpose. Each image is backed by a click-through link leading to the web page where it was discovered. Users can also check out boards created by others and “like,” “repin” or comment on what they find. Simple hasn’t hurt Pinterest, though—in fact, it’s half the appeal. Pinterest is easy to use, easy to browse and offers such a wide range of content that almost everyone can find something to enjoy.”

The visual focus of Pinterest and the ability to comment on images was the piece Celine had been seeking. Students include the reasons why they chose a particular image, providing her with insight into their decision process. With this information she could provide immediate feedback,

“I could actually push them immediately to the next level to understand why these images are exciting and which ones are for another project for another day…I took pictures of their design models and you can clearly see the connection between what they chose to do in the model with the research they did. Connections happened so I was super excited! The results are night and day between this class that used Pininterest for visual research because of the comments and feedback before they started to use the images. So I think for me Pinterest is the way to go for visual research.”

Pinterest is free but as of April, 2012, you have to apply to become a member or get an invitation from someone with an account:

Arthur, Lisa. “Pinterest: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 03 Apr. 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2012.

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2 Responses to Pinterest and Visual Research

  1. Pingback: Pinterest and Visual Research « TLT at Franklin & Marshall

  2. Pingback: Three Experiments with Online Teaching Tools «

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