As you can see in this screenshot, posted by user Dan Santoro (and shared by Matt Navarra), the new 'Learn' feed would be an alternative to the current 'Following' and 'For You' streams, giving TikTok users access to a dedicated, vertical-scrolling flow of the platform's educational video clips.
Currently in testing, and appearing for only some users, the stream, as noted, looks to be an expansion of its @LearnOnTikTok program, which is being funded through TikTok's $50 million creative learning fund, which it announced earlier this year as part of its broader $250 million commitment to assist with the impacts of COVID-19.
As explained by TikTok at launch:
"We've partnered with over 800 public figures, media publishers, educational institutions, and real-world professional experts who've been affected by the effects of this global pandemic to bring learning material to TikTok. We've been humbled to be able to bring these grants to educators, professional experts, and nonprofits who have the power to offer us creative learning especially during this tough time."
The impetus here, initially, was to provide a pathway to learning material for the millions of students who were stuck at home due to the COVID-19 lockdowns. Given that the majority of TikTok users are in their teens, providing a connection to such material could prove hugely valuable - and with various European nations announcing new, nationwide lockdowns this week, the new Learn feed could be coming at just the right time.
In a broader, perceptual sense, the Learn feed could be another way for TikTok to better ingratiate itself with the wider community, and showcase its social good, and the benefits it can provide, aside from the various controversies linked to the app. Indeed, TikTok has already faced temporary bans in several nations due to 'indecent' content, while the app has also come under scrutiny over its links to the Chinese Government, and the potential sharing of communist propaganda.
Definitely, there are concerns - any app which essentially incentivizes crowd-pleasing content is going to face issues with respect to what people will do to get those likes and followers. But TikTok is keen to promote itself as 'the last sunny corner of the internet', a place of positivity, and it is going to some effort to provide a more open space for creativity, as opposed to showcasing young girls dancing to would-be predators.
In reality, it's always going to have to manage a balance on this front, but either way, initiatives like #LearnOnTikTok could be highly valuable, and could help connect more young audiences to valuable, important scientific content, similar to the steps the platform has taken to provide updates and information on COVID-19 and the US Election. TikTok also launched an education series to help users detect misinformation online back in July.
TikTok hasn't provided any further information on the 'Learn' tab, and some users have reported having it then losing it again, so it appears to be in the early stage of public testing right now.
We'll keep you updated on any changes.