‘Pinterest for education’ coming to college campuses

Pinterest drew almost 12 million unique views in January.

Perhaps the only task more daunting than rounding up the internet’s trove of free resources is organizing those blogs posts, videos, photos, and audio files into a presentable classroom lesson. Online pinboards could simplify both.

Grockit, a social learning company based in San Francisco, has created an education-focused site called Learnist, based on the idea behind the popular photo-sharing website Pinterest. College students and educators can use Learnist to compile free online material onto one presentable page chock-full of content on a certain topic.

Learnist, which was launched as an invitation-only site at the outset, has Pinterest’s image-heavy appearance, allowing professors, for example, to put YouTube clips, online articles, eBook excerpts, and podcast clips on the same page, creating a one-stop learning space for their students.

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Farbood Nivi, founder of Grockit, said the ability to combine all sorts of freely available web-based learning material on a single page would cut down on students’ time-consuming web searches and expose them to resources that they might have missed if left to their own research on a school topic.

“We feel strongly that social learning shouldn’t be a method or practice you use for months or a year,” said Nivi, who added on Twitter that the launch of Learnist is “the proudest accomplishment of my life.” “We believe that social learning should be the dominant instructional design for all of humanity. That’s a big idea. And we’re ready to prove it.”

Grockit makes a test preparation program that connects members with peers studying for a similar exam. The product sells for $30 a month.

Learnist members will be able to sequence free web material, deciding where videos, blog posts, and photos are placed on their page. They’ll also be able to invite experts and others to join the Learnist board, and recommend learning material for other boards made public on the site.

Like Pinterest, Learnist members can transfer their boards to their Facebook timelines and share it with their social media community. They also can check off which learning boards they have completed on the site.

Roy Gilbert, Grockit’s CEO, said the company would leave it up to the Learnist online community to decide which pages are authoritative and worthy of students’ attention, and which are not.

“With traditional search results, there’s no way of vetting content, so we feel this is actually a more credible experience than, say, a search engine, which has a very specific algorithm that decides what’s important,” he said.

Audrey Watters, a blogger for the technology site Hack Education, said it’s no surprise that educational technology companies are tweaking the Pinterest platform for learning purposes. Pinterest was valued at $1.5 billion this month.

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