Common Sense Review
Updated October 2013

Flipboard

Curate Web content into glossy magazine format, though app offers more
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Common Sense Rating 3
Pros
Magazines are visually gorgeous, and kids will be inspired by other users' publications.
Cons
Inappropriate content is prevalent, and the app version is generally much more accessible.
Bottom Line
It's an interesting format for gathering information, and kids can learn about their chosen subject and develop research skills.
Polly Conway
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

It can be fun to curate content and collect it in one place, especially if it's related to hobbies and personal interests. The magazine format looks lush and glossy.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Kids will explore the Web, figuring out what pages fit within their topic (which might be anything from tropical fish to the Civil War). As they judge content, they'll do some critical thinking. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

A small amount of help is available on the website, but the majority of assistance is for the more popular app version. An introduction video describes how to make a magazine (on the app), and there's also a blog.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

You can use Flipboard as a classroom tool in several ways. Students can keep up with current events by creating magazines that focus on certain news trends. This would be a good assignment for a civics class, and you could adjust the focus depending on what subject you're studying at the time, from civil rights to government changes in the Middle East.

The site's format could also work for in-class presentations and could give students practice in choosing appropriate online sources. Just make sure they don't use it as a portal to access inappropriate content.

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What's It Like?

Flipboard is a website that allows users to create their own print-style online magazines using content from the Web. They can bookmark any page and add it to their magazine, which ends up being a collage of different Web pages on the same subject. You begin by downloading the Flipboard app onto a phone or tablet. Once you return to your computer, you can add the Flip It bookmarklet to your bookmarks bar. When you browse the Internet and find content that interests you, click the Flip It button. A window will pop up that allows you to add that page to a magazine. You can either create a new magazine or add to one you've already been working on. There's an option to post your activity to Facebook at this point, which would allow other people to visit your magazine. There isn't a search function on the website, so browsing is the main way to view content. To browse, click on one of the headings, which include Arts & Culture, Big Ideas, Sports, and News.

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Is It Good For Learning?

It seems like Flipboard really wants people to use the app version as opposed to the Web platform. You can't even create an account on the Web -- you have to sign up through the app, and then you can log in on a computer. However, the magazine format is really nice, the photography shines, and there are tons of well-curated topics to browse. The content, however, does have some issues. While the website is safer than the app (you can't search for inappropriate content), students have the whole Internet to choose from when creating their Flipboard magazines. With no regulations, kids could see or add anything that's online, making Flipboard best for highly supervised situations or for mature teens.

Students can learn how to research a topic, gathering information and choosing the Web pages they want to include in their magazine. They'll learn a little about magazine design, as they pick a cover image that best represents what's inside. They can write themselves little notes on each bookmarked page to remind themselves why they chose that page or to summarize its contents. Though it is best used as an app, the Web version of Flipboard can still help students explore interests and improve their research skills.

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