How The New Learnist Apps Signal A Change In Education Technology

If you haven’t heard of Learnist yet, you’re going to see the name around a whole lot more as of 11am today. That’s because Learnist just launched its new iPad and iPhone apps. Edudemic got a hands-on view of these apps and they are quite remarkable. Not just because they’re fancy apps that look nice, but because of what they signal to the larger world of education technology.

These apps are going to be the yardstick by which future edtech apps are judged.

I say that knowing full well that it’s a weighty claim. But when you start thinking about it all, it makes sense. First, let’s take a step back.

What Is Learnist?

Learnist is a social learning platform that looks like Pinterest with a heavy dose of Facebook and Instagram. It’s highly visual and seeing a huge uptick in users since the launch a few months ago. Still in closed beta, the folks at Grockit told me that they have been simply thrilled and blown away by the positive response.

Learnist lets you create learning boards that are essentially digitally curated silos of information. But since Learnist was built with education in mind from the start, the learning boards are easy to use in the classroom, assign as homework, or simply share on other social networks.

 ”Learnist redefines social learning by creating a collaborative mobile experience that empowers any learner, consumer and teacher to easily create and curate media-rich content.  With Learnist, we have designed interactive mash-ups in a mobile app that allows anyone to learn, share, and teach anytime and anywhere.” – Rusty Greiff, Chief Strategy & Development Officer, Grockit

The Apps

Until now, Learnist has been a web-based tool that is still in beta mode. But as of the publishing of this article, Learnist apps are officially available for iOS (iPhone and iPad). The iPhone app reminds me of Instagram (in a good way) and the iPad app reminds of Pulse (again, in a good way). Both apps are intuitive, easy to browse, and fun.

The iPhone app is all about content creation. It lets you quickly snap a photo of anything and then create a board around that topic. Traveling to Paris? Snap photos of your trip and use it as chance to come back and learn more about each place you visited.

Best of all, the social aspect of Learnist means people from all over the world can see your photos in real-time and comment, enhance, or even add your photos to their learning boards.

The iPad app is all about content discovery. The iPad is well known to be a lean-back device that’s perfect for finding new and interesting information. Same with the Learnist iPad app. You can watch videos, browse rich media, and take full advantage of basically all Learnist has to offer.

Why These Apps Matter To You

These apps are built by a team of smart education-oriented technologists who want to build a better education system. And thanks to the popularity of both Grockit and Learnist, they’re doing it. These apps signal a shift in the expected quality of mobile apps for education technology.

An Instagram for education? A Pinterest for education? A Facebook just for education? Many folks have been drawing these kinds of similarities when it comes to Learnist (myself included) for obvious reasons.

But the real story here is that Learnist and other high-end edtech tools are starting to dictate the future of education technology. They’re doing it by creating high quality apps that leverage the hard work and expensive research already done by other companies.

For example, the Learnist design resembles Pinterest for a reason. It’s image browsing resembles Facebook for a reason. It’s apps resemble popular apps for a reason. These designs are proven to work and that’s exactly what a lot of developers and designers forget. Education technology companies are constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. Learnist has simply taken the best spokes from the current wheel and combined them altogether. Not a bad idea.

Other app designers, developers, and edtech companies in general will likely take note of how Learnist is evolving and follow suit. Whether this leads to a world of Facebook and Instagram copycats (well, more of them at least) or something different remains to be seen. Regardless, these new Learnist apps are fun and worth checking out.

iPhone Version

iPad Version

iPad Screenshot

2 Comments

  1. Katie Jones

    September 5, 2012 at 10:27 am

    This looks like a useful app. It is definitely something to look into.

  2. Jamie Cyphers

    October 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    I love Learnist. It’s proved invaluable in helping me keep up with articles and strategies I might have misplaced otherwise! I do have a question though, for those of you using Learnist for the iPad. I was just issued an iPad at work, and I just can’t seem to figure out how to add learnings to my boards! Any advice/suggestions/tips? Thanks!