Today, the Lord came to me and told me to throw out my textbook. You know, the one that’s so old that the Iraq War isn’t included? The one with two columns on World War I—twenty five million deaths; generations of Europeans demographically decimated—and the textbook gives it two columns.
The one I’m using this year for Civics is somewhat better—after all, the Declaration of Independence is still the Declaration of Independence. No amount of time is going to outdate that document. But the modern-day references to the early Clinton Administration are a bit disturbing. I don’t blame my administrators—I wouldn’t want them wasting thousands of dollars on new books, which simply swap out the name of Clinton for Whoever Wins in November while they try really hard to avoid upsetting Texas…All to the tune of thousands of taxpayer dollars. That’s just wasteful.
Acres of rainforest die to make new textbook editions each time we fight a war, elect a new President, or decide whether Creative Design does or doesn’t belong in a the biology book. The point is, information and interpretation changes. But textbooks remain.
So, when the Lord came to me and said, “Casey, I have listened to your prayers. You have been a good and faithful servant. You have given your last apples to growing teens. You have acted out the end of Zulu when the VCR broke, break-falling over desks while throwing paper spears. You have written electives, watched school sports teams get crushed, and you have chaperoned school dances. Therefore, I’m going to grant your request to make the textbook obsolete.”
“But Lord,” I said, “How is that possible? What about the vocabulary words? The chapter questions? The pictures of historical figures that have long gone to You? Who will give these students matching exercises and true-false tests? Long, boring essays? Pictures of countries that have changed boundaries since the last print? Who will teach them to spell places like ‘Yugoslavia’ and ‘Rhodesia’ that no longer exist on the modern map?”
“Rest, my child, I have this covered.” And He gave me Learnist.
From the time I received the beta invite, to the first board I created, I knew this was a game-changer for everyone in education. For the schools that are tech-savvy, Learnist can be used in the classroom to collaborate on learning. Learnist allows the user to create “learnboards” that look similar to Pinterest boards, but act more like Facebook. Teachers can curate—or assemble—the boards and assign them, or they can have students contribute learnings to existing boards. Students can even research and create boards of their own, becoming content-area “experts.” Then, the “Facebook” kicks in, as everyone involved views the boards, “likes” them, and adds comments, even tweeting, emailing, or sharing boards with others.
For schools that lack technology, Learnist levels the playing field. Students can use the mobile apps—just released today—to curate and view boards. They can view them at home–if necessary–in the case of classes without the technology to take proper advantage of Learnist in school.
Students who are not in class or who are in need of remediation have access to the material as well, and students excelling in the material can work with or help create advanced material. All in all, Learnist helps create individualized instruction for each student without requiring a dime of taxpayer funding. And—this is perhaps the best news yet—100% of the new Common Core State Standards are represented in learnboards, with more being added by the minute. It’s the type of thing that makes a teacher feel truly loved.
Learnist was created by Grockit, a Silicon Valley leader in test preparation built on the premise that studying together is much more effective than studying alone. If students work on material together, collaborate on material together, and truly engage with each other, they will be motivated to practice and learn more—social learning produces proven results. So, why would anyone want a textbook?
Grockit’s creator Farbood Nivi is an ed tech entrepreneur and innovator in the field of social learning. In creating Learnist, he brought education and technology together to create something really special—something will benefit millions of students and no doubt change education. Learnist, I am convinced, will truly be a game changer, an answer to my prayer.
So, yes, I have seen the Lord. And his name is Farb.