Review by Erin Brereton, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2015

Smore

Create online flyers, learn a little about marketing with design tool

Common Sense Says:
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Grades
5-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Students get to be creative, test out PR, marketing, and writing skills, and results confirm what’s working (and what isn't).

Cons: Parents may not want students' creations to be public, which prevents them from getting user response data.

Bottom Line: A fast way to fashion attractive flyers, but students will need outside help to learn about PR and marketing and effective, concise writing.

Teachers can use the site to create event flyers, newsletters for students or parents, and other documents. For example, one educator-created flyer featured on the site includes updates on the teacher's recent classroom activity. Teachers can also use Smore in assignments that involve marketing and advertising principles, self-expression, and targeting writing to a specific audience. Smore says its design tool is even easy enough for first- and second-graders to use. However, teachers should be aware that students can easily share their creations with other site visitors if they're using the free version of the site. Smore's educator version, available for a $79 annual fee, automatically makes all flyers private. Give students an assignment to create a promotional flyer for a product they've invented, then take a vote to see whose product is most likely to get purchased based on the flyer.

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Smore is a website that lets users design their own online flyers. With a free or paid Smore subscription, you can make flyers that serve as newsletters or promote events, products, or services on social media sites. Flyers can also be printed and distributed. The site offers easy-to-read analytics to help you track how readers are responding to promotional efforts. You can view how many visits a flyer has received that month; whether viewers came from Facebook, email, or other sources; how much time users spent reading the flyer; and more. A map shows where viewers live, and you can also print out an email report.

According to Smore, the service has over one million users. The educator version costs $79 a year and lets teachers remove Smore logos and use custom backgrounds, including education-themed ones provided by the site. Teachers can send unlimited emails, access reports that show who opened emails, and automatically make all flyers private, which helps make the experience safer for students.

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Smore offers an easy, quick way to create attractive flyers. The design options aren't insanely complex; you can add some extras, like audio and video, and change fonts and colors, but the template is fairly simple. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. Students should be able to comfortably use the design tool, and the educator version removes some of the flyer-sharing privacy concerns that can arise with the site's free version. Teachers can use the site as newsletter, promotion-related, or other assignments for students; or they may just want to use it to create class or parent newsletters, school event flyers, or other items that look more professional than documents designed using basic suite of Microsoft Office products. If students' flyers are made public, analytics are available, letting kids know how many people viewed their flyer, which link they viewed it through (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and where viewers were located.

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Overall Rating
3

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

Having creative control and expressing themselves through posters is fun for students. They can comment on flyers, get badges for achievements, and create graphic representations of their knowledge.

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

The site doesn't offer much marketing and design instruction. However, students get to practice design and writing, and, if they share their flyer, they can find out what promotional efforts work better than 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

Students won't find in-depth articles on marketing or abundant tips on how to use the site, but the help section includes brief overviews of web analytics. The analytics can help students see the reach of a flyer.