Common Sense Review
Updated September 2013

Issuu

Online magazine platform looks great, needs better search function
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Common Sense Rating 3
Pros
Its format is well-designed and easy to use, and both kids and teachers can benefit from uploading their magazines onto Issuu's platform.
Cons
It's not a great place for kids to browse freely; it's easy to come across inappropriate content.
Bottom Line
It's a great place to share work and contains a lot of kid-appropriate magazines -- but you have to wade through a lot of mediocre content to find the good stuff.
Polly Conway
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Some of the magazines created by other users are professional, beautiful, and fascinating, just like their glossy paper counterparts. Issuu's design presents this content fairly well, although its search function needs some work.

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

As kids create a magazine, they'll not only be adding unique content but thinking like an old-time newspaper editor: "How do I draw in readers? What makes this magazine different from the others?"

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

The site has a searchable FAQ section and the option to email questions to its support team. Magazines support audio, which is nice in terms of accessibility.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Using Issuu's platform, you could design class-specific textbooks, workbooks, or even assignments to share with students, who could review them as homework. Its format could also lend itself to classroom presentations. It's probably not wise to let students run loose to explore other people's content on Issuu -- you never know what inappropriate content they might come across. But well-supervised students could add their own content to the site. Be aware that they need a separate desktop publishing program to design their product before they upload it to Issuu.

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What's It Like?

Issuu is a website where people can browse thousands of user-designed magazines or can upload and share their own. It's very visual and interesting, and it's stocked with all kinds of content, but it's not a site where you want students randomly clicking around. There are some magazines for kids, but the search function doesn't make them easy to find. Some magazines are more professional than others; since anyone can put their content on Issuu, you have to wade through lots of mediocre content.

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Is It Good For Learning?

The selection is incredible. It's like browsing the world's largest newsstand, except everything is free. However, unlike with a magazine shop in the real world, inappropriate content isn't hidden behind the counter. It comes up pretty easily, even with the Safe Search setting on. The site does have some outstanding content for kids, though -- it's just a matter of finding it. There's no specific section for kids, and a search for kids brings up everything from Russian lingerie catalogs to a KISS Kids comic book. 

Students can learn to write articles, take photographs, organize information, and put it all together into a magazine that they share with the world. They can also learn about nearly any subject by reading through the magazines other users have uploaded to Issuu. Kids can learn that it's possible for anyone to be a journalist if they have the time and interest. They'll also learn to promote and share their magazine through social media and other channels -- getting other people to read it is half the fun! Issuu is a cool platform that lets kids get their ideas out into the world, but the amount of content and its poor search mechanism may make it overwhelming for some.

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