Learnist, an online social learning venture and application, is releasing a new iOS app for mobile devices and launching the Learnist Digital Bookstore, which will sell premium content from a selection of well-known experts and celebrities. The new digital store will launch with content selling for 99 cents from actress Olivia Wilde, designer Danny Forster, NFL player Dhani Jones, MythBuster’s host Kari Byron, director Gus Van Sant and author Brad Meltzer.
“With so many people contributing to Learnist, this release puts the best Learnboards front and center in the user experience, and lets users easily access,save and organize what they want to learn,” according to Farbood Nivi, Learnist founder.
Learnist was founded in 2012 and allows anyone to create Pinterest-like “learnboards” on the Learnist site that can offer instructional information on any topic. Learnist attracts amateur experts and professionals and offers videos, text, links, online message boards focused on a wide variety of topics. Content has been free but the new Learnist Digital Bookstore is the first step toward monetizing the platform, according to Learnist CEO Roy Gilbert.
“Learnist allows users to curate knowledge and share it,” Gilbert told PW during a phone interview. Gilbert said the new app will give Learnist “the ability to sell lessons and we also promote and recommend content.” The site has 10 million users around the world and about 3 million users a month. Gilbert said the site has been been focused on “building community and content,” and offering premium for-pay content was planned as a first step toward bringing in revenue. The site does not have advertising though Gilbert said that could change down the road.
The site’s “learnboards” offer content on a wide variety of topics from science and technology to entertainment, politics, music, crafts, travel and more, “curated” and overseen by Learnist members. Gilbert said the premium content providers will provide a focus on more popular content. “Half our content is pure education with offerings in science and technology, and we’ve got more experts who want to offer content but aren’t quite ready yet. We’re starting with these six but we’ll be continually adding new premium content.”
The vast majority of Learnist content will remain free, Gilbert said, but the new iOS app “will show what’s free and what’s premium. We’re trying to raise the bar with a level of high quality content.” Gilbert said the Premium content providers were attracted to Learnist’s ability to connect directly to consumers and the speed of the process.
Bestselling novelist and comics writer Brad Meltzer, who will offer expertise on how to get published, praised the service, noting that “with the help of Learnist, I get to reach my audience via smartphones, offer them brand new content, and most of all, give them something that’s optimized for actual learning.” Among the premium content providers Gus Van Sant will offer tips on film editing, Mythbusters host Kari Byron will offer science experiments for kids mapped to common core standards and NFL star Dhani Jones—who also has a show on the Travel Channel—will offer travel trips for people who want to learn about sports around the world.
“Our partners have asked us for a way to enable faster publishing and broader distribution of their highest-quality content,” Gilbert said. “With the new Learnist app for iPhone and iPod Touch, any user can share and learn from celebrated experts and brands as easily as they do with friends.”