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Learnist for Educators

Several months ago I registered for an account with Learnist, one of the more recent of a growing number of options for managing and sharing web-based resources. There’s no avoiding, at least from where I’m sitting, the popularity of tools like this among educators looking for better ways to not only track current trends, but also engage students.

Similar to Pinterest, “a virtual pinboard” where you can “organize and share the things you love,” Learnist is also structured with online boards that feature visually appealing layouts. Learnist’s more focused mission is to “make it easy to share what you know and learn new things.” Its growing popularity is evidenced in its inclusion in this year’s list of the “Top 100 Tools for 2012” created by the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies and based on the votes of more than 500 learning professionals.

Currently, Learnist requires an invitation for new registration, but it’s easy enough to submit a request online. And you don’t need an account to access many of the boards others are curating and sharing.

In the Classroom …

Through the creation of “learn boards” with posted “learnings,” instructors at all levels of education are finding ways to implement Learnist as a resource for students in their online and off-line courses. It is not hard to find good examples:

  • presents “10 Ways to Use Learnist in the Classroom” with strategies ranging from scavenger hunts to group projects, but my favorite as a career and education writer may be “connecting classroom materials with jobs and fields of study.”
  • Education Dive’s “8 Ways to Use Learnist” provides additional examples and links to boards designed for test-prep, informal learning, and more.
  • Check out the Writing Student Survival Kit board managed by journalist and instructor Maggie Messitt as an example of what you can create with the system.

Learnist is already responding to educator requests for improvements. In an email update I received this week, a “registration method that would work from behind school firewalls” was developed, allowing account sign-in with an email address, as opposed to previous access via Facebook accounts. This also addressed a privacy issue, as many educators prefer not to use Facebook to interact with their students and colleagues.

… and Beyond

So far, I’m just getting started and haven’t created any new learning boards, but am instead focusing my energies on finding boards to follow. In the process, I’ve found value in using the system outside the classroom:

  • As a newsfeed: Learnist has become one of the education news aggregators I refer to regularly for a look at the headlines and trending topics in my fields of interest. Using the Manage Tags function of your account you can fine-tune the categories of posts presented. The system also sends out email notifications based on your preferences with “staff picks,” a shorter list of boards for you to review.
  • For professional development: Other Learnist users are sharing what they know about a wide range of topics. Search for keywords, such as digital storytelling and online learning and teaching to view other educators’ resource collections, as well as reader comments and links to related boards.
  • To expand my personal learning network: Facebook, Google+, and especially Twitter have helped me not only discover, but also communicate with educators from around the world. Learnist offers the same opportunity to broaden your network and find out more about what your peers are doing.

There are so many tools available these days, with new ones almost certainly on the horizon. As Edudemic asks, “after all, who doesn’t want to organize their digital content better?” Each platform offers different features and functions, and some will be a better fit for your needs and easier to use than others.

If you aren’t already collecting online resources in some way, consider giving Learnist a try, and share your favorite boards with us here in the comments area.

November 16th, 2012 written by Staff Writers

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