In our last class, Tumblr was presented as a digital tool to use in the classroom. And, frankly, I feel like it got the "shaft" (I love you girls). As a former Tumblr user (I just don't have time anymore), I can see plenty of ways that it can be used in the classroom educationally, and many other ways that it can be regulated for content and made safe for student use.
First, the idea that Tumblr is a "less organized version of Pinterest" (as it was presented) kind of has to be deconstructed. Every website has things in common; from the "liking" of Facebook, to the "thanking" of scoop, to the "hearting" of Storybird. Still, these websites endure because they have enough that is unique within themselves and users enjoy some particular aspects, which keeps the website flourishing.
When you "Pin," you capture and share "all the beautiful things you find on the web" (Pinterest's own words). When you Tumble (?), you share "all the beautiful things you create/write/record/produce/film on the web". You create original thought. For example, my Tumblr houses poetry and short stories I've written, anecdotes of personal experiences and ideas I decided to share with friends, pictures from vacations I've went on, videos I've put together for class projects, and even papers I've written for class. Tumblr is a blog site; a more visual, user friendly, highly social blog site at that. It can do many things that Pinterest cannot, and vice versa.
As far as safety goes, you see posts by people you follow. If the class, regulated by an educator, is only allowed to follow each other with the educational blogs they make, then I don't see content as a problem. Students (for the most part) won't post anything that they won't want their teacher reading. It's that simple.
Students can't find anything on Tumblr that they can't easily find in a Google Search (even though some schools block Google content, it is very easy for kids, who are way more tech savvy than administrators, to get around that). That is why it is up to the teacher to build an environment of respect and rapport with students. Let them know what you expect of them and consequences for publishing inappropriate content with Tumblr (as you would with any other digital tool you use in the classroom because students can just as easily pin an inappropriate picture on Pinterest, right?). That is the chance you take with all digital tools, not just Tumblr.
I think that Tumblr can be used in the classroom. In this class, we blog with Blogger, which is generated for an older audience. Tumblr is more visual and easier to navigate because it is generated with a younger audience in mind. If we can use Blogger in our college class and blog twice a week about whatever interests us, I think it could be a great assignment for secondary students also.
There is a lot more that can be done on Tumblr than I can explain in this blog. So, check it out!