“[T]he interest in Pinterest makes for a great opportunity for an education company to build a better version, one that takes advantage of our fondness to pin and share online but that also recognizes that we must do more than just build a visually appealing content delivery system if we’re really going to make something that works for teaching and learning,” Watters wrote.

Building a crop of reliable Learnist board makers, Watters wrote, will be critical in establishing the new site as a destination for college students conducting online research.

“Attracting a strong user-base to the site will be the first challenge for the site, particularly as the emphasis is on social learning,” she wrote. “Although Learnist isn’t really a challenger to a site like Wikipedia, I think there are important lessons to be learned there about the power of volunteer editors and about the struggles to define what constitutes the right thing or right information—let alone the right learning.”

Social media pros on college campuses have tested Pinterest as a possible addition to their school’s social networking circles after market research showed exponential growth in the site’s membership.

Pinterest drew almost 12 million unique views in January, and now has more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter, according to a report from Shareaholic, a web traffic tracking service. The Pinterest model, based almost entirely on sharing photos and links, is “naturally inclined to drive referral traffic,” according to the Shareaholic research.

Displaying campus scenery front and center on a school’s Pinterest page is the direct way to share photos in a social media setting, said Christen Gawan, head of social media sites at Union College in New York.

“On Twitter, you can tell followers that you have a great photo online, and you can promise it’s nice, but you have to have them click to actually see it,” Gawan said. “And sometimes that extra step loses people. … Photos can get lost on Facebook and Twitter, so it’s such a missed opportunity to not post pictures of your campus on Pinterest, where you can really display them in a very prominent way. ”

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