Gibbon is a Very Unique (and Fun) Take on Online Learning

The web is an undeniably powerful learning tool. It would almost have to be, given the mind-boggling amount of information at our fingertips. And while most of the discussion involving learning and the web has revolved around the disruption of higher learning by institutions like Coursera and Khan Academy, it seems that one huge area of interest is being skipped over entirely.

It's said that we add as much information every two days as we did from the beginning of time to 2003... and that was in 2010. The numbers get only more staggering since. So who's leveraging all that existing information—all the blog posts, all the videos—for the greater good?

Turns out, Gibbon is. Gibbon is a very unique take on online learning. They don't develop MOOCs, like Khan or Coursera, and they don't do strategic lessons, like Treehouse or Codecademy, but instead leverage existing internet content, allowing any user to combine that content into a "lesson" of their own creaton. Think of them as playlists of learning.

Once you sign up, Gibbon will ask you how much learning you want to do (10/20/30 minutes per day/week), then you'll be given a selection of courses, which is heavily populated by design, coding, and the like, partly because Gibbon sets the site up that way, and partly because most early adopters simply have a technological bent. It'll be interesting to see what the ratio looks like as Gibbon's user base grows. You can browse lessons by category (featured, popular, new, design, programming, startups) or search for specific keywords.

Choose a lesson (or "flow," as they're called), and you'll be taken to the lesson plan, which includes a summary of the lesson and its "chapters" in a sidebar on the right. Each chapter is simply a link from elsewhere on the web. Chapters are chosen by teachers, and presented in the order in which the teacher feels is best. You'll see a "next" button beside the first chapter.

Click on that first chapter, and you'll be taken to a clean, text-only view of the article (much like Readability, Instapaper, or Pocket's read views). When you finish reading, the lesson will automatically be marked as learned, and a button in the top right corner of the page will denote that change. When you're finished, you can click a button in the top left to go back to the main flow page, or move onto the next chapter by clicking a button in the bottom right.

When you go back to the lesson plan, you'll notice that your learned lesson is now marked as such, and the "next" button has moved to the next chapter.

And that's the flow of... well, flows. You'll collect points as you finish each chapter and lesson, which will be displayed on your profile. That profile will also display the lessons you've enrolled in, which ones you're teaching (as I said, anyone can put together a lesson playlist and therefore become a teacher), and a circle graph of the categories in which you've earned your points.

Bottom Line

Gibbon is a fascinating way to learn, and can quickly get a bit addictive. It's a fantastically unique concept, but one that, in retrospect, seems ridiculously obvious. The design is bright, clean, fast, and modern, making it quite enjoyable to use, and the community seems to be thriving already (that is, arguably, the most important point- startups usually live or die by the community they create). All in all, Gibbon is one to keep an eye on.

Gibbon | @gibbonco