by S. Michael Putman
As you read the title of this post, I am sure many of you immediately noted the implicit reference to Pinterest, a website that has quickly gained a tremendous following, especially among teachers. However, my goal is to actually introduce you to a new website, called Learnist, which has been referred to as the “Pinterest for education.” In what follows, I’ll provide a brief overview of the tool as well as describe a few potential benefits and uses of this social learning platform.
Identified as a multimedia learning platform, Learnist
represents a tool that allows users to gather or examine multiple digital resources about a topic (tag) in what’s referred to as a learning board. The advantage of Learnist
over other similar tools is that content resources presented on the board can consist of more than just a series of pictures or links. In fact, Learnist
is capable of displaying imbedded resources in diverse formats, such as text, audio, video (including YouTube and Vimeo), and Google maps and books. Extending this flexibility, the resources can also be ordered, thus creators can provide a presentation-like environment, progressing users through a specific set of materials in sequence. Taking advantage of the communicative function of the platform, users can follow specific people, comment on and “like” boards as well as share boards through other outlets, including Facebook and Pinterest. The interface is very much like other social networks, but rather than trying to explain how it looks, I would suggest going directly to the site and examining the learning board
that offers a quick tour. Not only will you see what a board looks like, but you’ll also be able to examine a number of videos and text-based sources that introduce the website in more detail and explain how to complete some of the common actions necessary for active and productive use of the site.
Learnist has great potential for use by educators, both as an instructional tool and as an informational resource. In regard to the former, teachers can “send” their students to a learning board on a particular topic that offers a finite set of resources organized around a particular topic. In essence, the website offers the opportunity to minimize the need for students to search the Internet for resources or information, potentially saving instructional time. Utilizing the flexibility of formats for content resources, teachers can also potentially meet multiple learners’ needs as concepts and materials are introduced and reinforced in several ways within a board. As a professional development tool, Learnist provides access to a wealth of information on a variety of educational subjects. For example, there are multiple learning boards with content addressing instructional methods to meet the Common Core State Standards. Other boards function primarily as resource centers about particular topics, e.g. how to use iPads within instruction or 21st Century Learning.
I feel Learnist offers some new and exciting possibilities for educators, beyond simply getting ideas from pictures pinned on walls. Hopefully you’ll take a look and find multiple ways to use it as an instructional resource as well as one for professional growth.
S. Michael Putman is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
This article is part of a series from the International Reading Association Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).