Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2014
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News360

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Customizable reader has top-notch features, but beware of iffy content

Subjects & skills
Skills
N/A

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • English Language Learning
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
7-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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5 images

Pros: Terrific interface and flexible features let users customize and share their experience.

Cons: Some uneven content can make for a less-than-newsworthy reading experience.

Bottom Line: A stellar, easily customizable way to browse and share the news, best used with some patient fine-tuning.

In a 1-to-1 classroom or on a shared classroom device, have students download News360, then have them search for high-quality sources like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other reputable news sources. Have students share the articles they enjoy most and comment on the choices they made, presenting stories as current events entries for a history or social studies class or using them as sources for a research paper.

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News 360 is a personalized news reader. First, users select the kinds of stories they'd like to see from among hundreds of options. You can choose particular categories (like "science" or "politics" or "food") and select individual tags related to that category. You can also search for particular sources (like The New York Times or The Washington Post) and choose to view stories from those sources and others like them. Once you've selected your tags, up-to-date stories appear as tiles on-screen; swipe left and right to browse them, tap to read them, or swipe up to share the story, save it for offline reading, or give it a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. These latter two options help the app's algorithm better identify relevant stories and provide more for future viewing. To revisit the settings menu, tap an icon or swipe upward to further customize the news reading experience. You can share stories easily to social media and to other apps on the device, and also save an unlimited number of stories for offline reading.

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Given enough time and exploration, News360 can work well for teachers and students. The interface is attractive, and its algorithm is pretty good: Tap thumbs-up or thumbs-down for the stories you read and you'll get more and more content that matches your interests. It's also nice that there are so many options for local news and information. Among your initial options, you can choose to follow news about your local sports teams, local weather, and local issues. Exploration is rewarding; the further you drill down, the more you'll be rewarded with possible topics to follow.

The app's only drawback is the quality of its content. That's not the app's fault; it has much more to do with the quality of content out there related to the particular topic. Even the most benign news topic (like "health") can sometimes usher more lurid content onto the homepage. With some good context, smart tagging choices, and teacher guidance, this could be a good tool for getting kids reading the news regularly. Searching for and picking quality news sources works better. That way, you get a great selection of news stories solely from sources you trust.

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Overall Rating

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

Thousands of tags to choose from, an attractive visual style, and an intuitive interface make for a joyful news reading experience.

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

It takes some work to make the app consistently show valuable content, but it's worth the effort. This is a great way to access, read, and share news stories.

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

Great customization features make it easy to adjust the experience, though it can take a while to tailor it to show exactly what you expect to see. 


Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Aaron S. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Great for finding and organizing news but doesn't adjust reading levels for articles

News360 is really easy to sign up for, and you can sign up with an email address which is handy in case social media websites are blocked at your school. The design is beautiful, intuitive, easy to understand, and the articles are organized well. Also, the app improves the more you use it, as it's algorithm adjusts based on a user's input of a thumbs up or down. It is a handy and well done app, however without the adjusted reading levels for each article I'll be using an alternate.

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