Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2013
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Flipboard: Your Social News Magazine

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The world at your fingertips, including some iffy content

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Teachers say (6 Reviews)
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Grades
9-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: An outstanding way to find, customize, and view news and special interest information.

Cons: Anything and everything -- including some not-for-kids content -- can be found here.

Bottom Line: If used wisely, it's a high-quality personalized news magazine that can carry a lot of value.

In the classroom, you could very easily use a Flipboard account and customize it to the subject matter of your course. You and your class can stay up-to-date with news, learn about current events, do research, find images and videos and more. A possible treasure-trove of supplemental material, Flipbook can be a great way to source supplemental material for your lessons. 

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Flipboard: Your Social News Magazine is a personal news magazine that customizes content -- from news and social media sources -- to individual users' interests. The app is a content-gathering powerhouse -- it can be extremely fun and useful, but it also can include plenty of not-for-kids content. 

Within the app there are 18 main topic categories -- for example, sports, science, celebrities, news, photography, politics -- that might be of interest. You can connect with social media accounts -- Facebook, Google+, or Twitter -- to update your status, search content, and follow all of your online news and social media feeds in one spot. The magazine-style layout allows users to flick through pages with ease. 

Flipboard's Terms of Use indicate that the app isn't for kids under 18 without a parent's permission, and not for anyone under 13 -- this can complicate things for school use. With a quick search of a few iffy terms it's easy to see why. Search results turn up all sorts of photos, videos, magazine articles, blog posts, tweets, social media feeds, and more. However, the app can also access kids' media content like National Geographic Kids among others. Some district-level and school-site content filters may alleviate this issue.

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Flipboard wasn't created with educational intent -- while it can help teens learn about popular culture, global events, science, and more, there are a lot of pitfalls to be avoided. If used wisely, teens can choose pre-organized subjects and search Flipboard to learn useful information while avoiding inappropriate content. But iffy content is just a search away for any teen motivated in that direction. Teachers, however, may find the app more useful.

In the future, a built in content filtering option could be a very useful, classroom-friendly addition. Currently, users can "mute" people whose posts are offensive and there's an option to flag inappropriate content (which will remove and report it). For now, the potentially shark-infested oceans of content outweigh the good for most teens, aside from those who will use it wisely. However, for teachers, it can be an excellent tool to stay tuned into the latest news to incorporate into your lessons and bring to your students, filtered and responsibly.

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Overall Rating
2

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

With lots of searchable, easy-to-organize content, the app is highly engaging for both teens and adults. The design is intuitive, and captivating images are often highlighted.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
2

Teachers can choose content and categories related to the classes they teach. With teacher guidance, students can view and discuss current media relating to course content, and evaluate media messages.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
2

Most instructions appear the first time the app is opened. Otherwise, there's not a lot of help, likely because Flipboard is so easy to use. Options for educational use would be a nice addition.


Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

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James D. , Other
Other
5
Flipboard - One of the best curation tools out there for the classroom

Finding reading level appropriate, content area related texts is very difficult for many teachers. For many of us our curricula don't 'fit' a traditional textbook. Flipboard allows us as teachers to curate timely, appropriate readings around any topic. Essentially we create/curate living textbooks.

Most importantly, they allow students to become active in the creation of these textbooks. For any teacher who thinks his/her students aren't quite ready for that process, you can turn it on when you are ready.

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