Learnist: Collaborative Learning for Social Media Enthusiasts

The Learnist front page.

Social learning and test-prep company Grockit recently launched Learnist, a Pinterest-style learning website that allows users to collect and share educational content from around the web.

The site is currently in beta form but you can request an invite to participate. Like Pinterest, you can link Learnist to your Facebook account so things you’ve Pinned, or, Learned, pop up on your timeline feed. Educators can use the site to order materials pinned their board and other users can visit their pages and re-pin content for themselves.

Grockit hopes to hitch a ride on the popularity train of Pinterest, the user base of which is skyrocketing, having grown 900 percent since the site’s inception in 2009. Learnist imitates the clean design scheme of Pinterest, which features minimal visual distraction and easy scrolling and image browsing. But is mirroring the style and interface of Pinterest enough to get Learnist off the ground?

An article in The Journal featured a quote from Grockit’s founder Farb Nivi: “With Learnist, and with Grockit overall, we really aim to provide an environment that students are familiar and comfortable with to help improve the way they learn. Plus, if we have the option to learn with video, sound, slides, and more, why would we stick with a 2D textbook?”

You can create individual Learnist Boards based on subjects and categories. You collect content for individual boards—in honor of the Higgs Boson discovery yesterday, let’s say you can create a board on physics—and invite other friends to join and pin content of their own. I haven’t yet received my invitation to Learnist, so I can’t produce a board with articles about the Large Hadron Collider or an editorial about whether or not Swedish scientists saw the face of God yesterday, but you get the idea. The idea is that a physics teacher could create an individual board based on yesterday’s discovery and then invite his students who also have Learnist accounts to hop on and browse.

Learnist appears to be a good way to keep up with current events and educational concepts in an online space. This learning platform could also come in handy for teachers who have flipped their classrooms, giving them another method to deliver course material to students connected at home.

The main challenge Learnist faces is accumulating a user base. Pinterest enjoys around 18 million unique page views per month, but can Learnist enjoy a similar popularity with its niche target audience? Grockit hopes to instill that sense of mystique many sites enjoy when they are based on waiting lists and invitations. (Remember last year when people were abuzz about getting invites to the Google+ beta? That pre-release hubbub made Google+ the fastest growing social network in history … for a time.)

Learnist must keep up the momentum if it hopes to become a popular tool among educators and students.