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Education Pinboard Site Learnist and Discovery Communications Announce Partnership, $20M Investment
Discovery Communications, the parent company of Discovery Education and a number of popular cable television channels, has led a $20 million investment in Grockit during a funding round as part of a wider partnership. Grockit is a test prep company that launched the education-centered pinboard site Learnist earlier this year.
Roy Gilbert, Grockit’s CEO, said that the two companies were working on ways to integrate Discovery learning materials into Learnist boards and other "distribution opportunities" at some point in 2013.
Learnist allows users to pin media, like photos and video, onto digital boards in sequential order, organized by theme or lesson. Several educators have already used it to express concepts like grammar, complex fractions, and decimals as part of their lessons.
Grockit founder Farb Nivi described the investment in a learning-focused social networking site as strategic. "Big media companies [like Discovery] get your attention when you’re watching television and when you’re reading news or listening to the radio. They’re not getting as much attention in those 3 to 5 minute places where people are checking Twitter and Facebook. This is a way for those guys to get into that space," he said
The latest round of funding coincides with the launch of a re-designed Learnist web site focused on highlighting a community of experts, including industry leaders like Bobby Chang, founder of In-Case, Clark Scheffy, founder of Ideo, and Eric Ries, the author of The Lean Startup. Changes are also coming to the site’s home and profile pages.
A recent update to the Learnist iPad app now allows users to add materials to their learn boards. In October, the site added the ability for users to embed boards directly into blogs or web sites.
Stephen Noonoo is a reporter, contributing editor and consultant specializing in education technology. He is on Twitter @stephenoonoo.