A tool we’ve been playing around with recently at TeachThought is called Learnist.
Learnist organizes information Into “socially-driven lessons.” Reminiscent of MentorMob, Pinterest, and Grockit, Learnist is the latest in a line of digital tools that are designed to leverage the power of crowds to provide resources and informal learning opportunities. Each have their own niche and ideally wouldn’t be seen as competitors, but most educators don’t have time for equity in learning platforms–they need something that’s effective, flexible, and easy to use.
There are a lot of tools that function as content curation tools–YouTube channels, for example, allow for simple cherry picking of TEDEd videos and lessons for use in formal and informal learning environments. Podcast apps can do the same thing. In fact, educators can now handpick traditional academic materials to create their own digital curricula, textbooks, courses, and so on.
How Learnist Works
With Learnist, educators can curate digital resources–videos, blogs, podcasts, books, infographics, documents, images–that help facilitate learning, and these resources are placed on “boards” for sharing. An available bookmarklet allows you to “pluck” content from across the web as you browse, so you don’t have to be intentionally sitting down to create a board to do so.
While it eschews important elements of instructional design–assessment, personalization, activating prior knowledge, intentional use of ideas like cognitive dissonance, etc.–that’s also part of its charm. It is a playground of media and data that can act as a hub for the flipped classroom (more on that tomorrow) the same way Google+, Edmodo, or YouTube channels can, but ultimately with more flexibility.
“Crowds” can interact, suggest resources, ask questions, and offer insights not from the vantage point of a busy-body social media giant like facebook or Google+, but one that is based on learning topics (Design, Music, Politics) and cultural pathways (e.g., Technology, Art, Olympics).
In this way, Learnist puts the content at the forefront of its design rather than chatter, “likes,” and collaborative pathways, but honors the possibility of both.
And therein lies the beginning of its potential.
We think so much of this kind of approach to learning that we’re going to be bringing TeachThought users hand-picked Learnist content each week. For some of you this will be a nice source of ideas for content, while for others it will be helpful to have modeled some of the more creative and imaginative ways to use Learnist in both formal and informal learning environments.
A video overview appears below, and we look forward to learning how TeachThought educators are using Learnist, questions they might have, or suggestions they have for revision as this exciting new platform gets off the ground.