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Flipboard As a Textbook Replacement

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flipboardOK…so let me clarify that title. I honestly think textbooks are on their way out…or at least I hope they are. Really it should read “Flipboard as core curation artifact for classrooms” but that wouldn’t have you here reading now would it. 🙂

I’m in love with Flipboard. I have been for awhile now….it’s one of the first apps that gets downloaded on all devices. But lately as I’ve been thinking about the death of textbooks and what might replace them I have started to dig deeper into Flipboard and really think it has a ton of potential to be that core curation body of knowledge for teachers and students.

Why Flipboard:

  • Can be installed on all devices! I mean all devices. Windows, Mac, iDevices, Android. That by itself gives it a top marks!
  • Beautiful layout: Design matters…and Flipboard knows that. Every time I show Flipboard to a teacher or student they instantly love it…what’s not to love. Big pictures, magazine flare, beautiful transitions.
  • Connected: You can connect Flipboard to a ton of different accounts and at the same time connect it to hashtag conversations giving you all kinds of different ways to bring information together in one space.

Flipboard Magazines:

This really is the game changer. Flipboard rolled out magazines a while a go. Allowing a user to create a magazine and “Flip” things into it. Others can subscribe to your magazine and see what you find interesting. You can check out my magazine here ——————————————————->

So basically a teacher would have a flipboard account….set up a magazine for thier class and then “flip” all the articles, resources, etc they want students to access into the magazine. The students subscribe to the magaizne and have all that content dispalyed beautifully on their screen….no matter what that screen is.

Class as Content Curators:

Of course….that would work but I think we can go farther. I don’t want the teacher finding all the content for the course. I want students to have the ability to add content to their “textbook” as well. Content that we can discuss in the classroom, that can spark conversation…the real reason we come together..to be social. What if we could have all the students in a class adding to the “textbook” have them find things that interest them on a given topic and allow them to “flip” that into our “textbook” as well. Flipboard allows that too…where you can invite others to add to your Flipboard magazine. Game changer!!!!

But Wait There’s More!

Because ever student is going to need a Flipboard account to make this work they also will be able to create their own boards around content they enjoy. The class magazine (aka textbook) becomes part of that but so does other things that interest them. Also…..because you can search a twitter hashtag and add that to your Flipboard. A class hashtag now becomes part of the conversation. Where kids can tweet something, hashtag it with something like #engp1ju (English Period 1 Jeff Utecht) and have all that content in their new “textbook” as well.

Social and Academic

I talk a lot about breaking down the barriers of social and academic. That this is the world we live in where we work and are social at the same time. A Flipboard account would allow students to have both. A student could have a Flipboard account that had:

  • Class Magazine (textbook)
  • Class Twitter hashtag
  • School Twitter hashtag
  • Their Instagram account
  • Their Facebook account
  • Google+ Account (School or/and personal)
  • Their own Twitter feed
  • News from things that interest them
  • Their Tumblr account

[box] Bonus: Check out the Flipboard tutorials here to get started![/box]

Easy Sharing

Then there is the sharing component. I read something in my Tumblr stream that applies to what we’re talking about in class and I can…with two clicks….add that to our class textbook.

Every student is using Chrome of course (they are right?) so we add the Flipboard extension to Chrome and again in two clicks students can add any website they are on, any article they find to the class textbook.

Or we share it to the class twitter hashtag. Or we share it to our personal account. Our personal and academic lives overlap and what we have is……just life.

If you know of a class…or your class is doing this…please let me know. Cause I think this has HUGE potential to bring everything together. I’m even starting to wonder if it would be worth pursuing for COETAIL? To show teachers who we can create a “textbook” based on the latest things people are reading, tweeting, finding, and sharing. Kim and I might need to have a conversation. 🙂

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. I would agree with the value of using Flipboard magazines. It is a great medium for delivering content, and still you can share a lot of visuals.

  2. Awesome. You are reminding me that I should get into Flipboard more in detail. Great idea to give it a try within the coetail community. It’s always the best to experience it. Could it replace Diigo? I’ve never really liked it …

  3. Pingback: Flipboard As a Textbook Replacement | Teachers Blog

  4. Great idea Jeff. I want to pitch it to my middle school teachers and see if there are any who would like to try this out.

  5. A timely post Jeff. I’ve been using Flipboard magazines for a while now myself and was instantly struck by the potential for exactly what you mention here. I think it makes perfect sense to leverage Flipboard as a “textbook” replacement. Something we will be working on with the kids soon… I’ll let you know how it goes!

  6. I think Flipboard is beautiful. It’s one of the few reasons I have an iPad. Soon after I discovered Flipboard, I discovered Zite app. I spend more time on Zite as it brings articles across my way by “serendipity”. My Flipboard was curating the things I’ve chosen (RSS, Twitter Accounts). Zite was bringing stuff I had “not chosen” but what they thought would be interesting to me. Each time I “like” or “dislike” an article on Zite, it would remember and put it into some mysterious algorithm to bring better content across my path.

    Zite has been bought by Flipboard. I was talking to Zite about something un-related but they told me that their integraton with Flipboard is going to help Flipboard brings things across my way much like the Zite app did. As well, they’ll provide a seamless way to move our “history” from Zite into Flipboard. All sounds great!

    Moving to another topic…

    I’m actually not happy to think that we’ll lose textbooks one day. Do you mean losing the physical textbook, or textbooks as a source? I could handle losing a physical textbook and see the content show up in e-book form. I don’t want to lose textbooks as a source. So, I’m not too sure a Flipboard can curate authoritative content such as textbook content and research studies & journals. If that’s true, then replacing textbooks with Flipboard would effectively put an upper ceiling on the standard of scholarship found in our reading.

    There is a lot of information on the net but it’s not all equal in worth. It seems the most popular of articles are inversely correlated to the quality of research or scholarship put into it.

    I would like to see more of a balance in all of education and especially online education—balancing some of the sugar-coated web information with the meat and potatoes of research journals. We can’t begin to teach students how to differentiate between excellent content and so-so content, if they’re never exposed to excellent content. What do I mean when I say “excellent content”. I mean content backed by critical research and controlled for validity and reliability. Written by experts in the field and not a part-time blogger. (I’m the part-time blogger, by the way, and I know the short-comings of what I write.)

    Someone with expertise about Google Scholar needs to push and teach about this search engine. I’ve used it but I’m only a beginner…

  7. I really like this idea- thanks so much for sharing. I’ve been a big Flipboard fan for awhile but had gotten away from it with students for a few years. We are rolling 1:1 with Chromebooks and thinking about this very issue- building and collaborating on shared knowledge. What a perfect way to do it. Thanks again and more to test and ponder!

    -Steve J

  8. Hi Jeff, I’ve been using Zite as a classroom supplement for the past two school years, with smashing success. The students customize their own magazines and then share articles that they find significant via Twitter and “LIVE” in person via AppleTV. Then they respond to one another via Twitter after an in-class discussion. NOW FLIPBOARD BOUGHT ZITE. I love Flipboard too, but I love Zite for other reasons. My hope is that Flipboard will maintain what I love about it and add everything I love about Zite. What are the odds that this will be a best of both worlds sitch? *fingers crossed*

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Hi Jodie,

      That’s awesome…hopefully your documenting your set up on your blog so others can see how this runs in a real classroom. If you are keep me posted I’m interested! Agreed Zite and Flipboard together could be a fantastic pairing. Excited about the future.

    • Hi Jodie

      I was disappointed to hear that Flipboard bought Zite as I love Zite for what it is, which is different than Flipboard. I’d rather they be separate.

      Flipboard is more serious for me as I curate feeds and accounts that I want to follow. Zite was more serendipity and fun. I like the way that Zite makes it easy to save to Evernote and also makes it easy to share through Twitter. I think 90% of my tweets are from my Zite app.

      Well, that’s the nature of technology. One minutes it’s here, the next minute it’s gone, changed, or been bought by another company. I was surprised to read that the old standby reading app “Stanza” is now gone. I just recently started borrowing ebooks from my library in Canada, again. I had stopped because the selection was so poor but the selection has exploded now, so it’s really worthwhile to borrow ebooks now. “Stanza” is gone, so I need to find another e-book app that can borrow epub format from public libraries… The only thing that we can count on is change!

  9. I was interested in this, so I set up a magazine for a course I will be teaching at a university next semester. We use a lot of articles found on JSTOR, etc., but I can’t seem to link to those webpages? Is there a way to include .pdfs? I was not able to find a way.

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Because JSTOR is behind a password protected wall it might not work. If the PDF is on the internet somewhere with a URL you can “flip” it into the magazine for sure.

  10. Flipboard was one of the first apps I downloaded onto my iPad lat year. It was neat, but the. I found zite and Flipboard was just gathering dust. But then, i found google+ and Zite went away.
    But I only used them for my own personal PD. I never thought of teaching students to use Flipboard for themselves, or use it to help teach other subjects. But, what an awesome idea – student curated curriculum content magazines WITH class interactions embedded directly into the collection? How fun is that? Starting tomorrow!

  11. I agree with you that Flipboard has lots of pedagogic potential, however I haven´t tried it yes, only suggested a friend that it could be a good alternative to her last year paper students´magazine. What I´d really like to have is the option to comment on articles so that the experience of flipping the magazine pages could become interactive and collaborative. I thought about google docs to generate urls as you suggested in the previous post, we´ll see…thanks for this post, it really came in handy.

  12. You will NEVER make this work for math class but still a good idea…just not a universal idea.

  13. Hi Jeff,

    My name is Ty Walker and I’m a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. This is my second time being assigned to your blog and I enjoyed this post just as much as I did the first. The fact that you hope that textbooks will soon be on their way out is a very interesting concept. My professor always speaks about the idea of “burp back education” and without textbooks that way of teaching would be impossible, which is a very good thing. I know it will probably be years before we see a change, if textbooks are ever replaced at all, but your idea was very well presented and is something that I wouldn’t mind trying in the future.

    • Hi Ty

      What do you mean by “burp back” and how is it related to paper textbooks? Yet, you think it is a good thing. Why?

  14. Dr. Jeri Kraver Reply

    I am a huge fan of magazines in the classroom, in part b/c they allow students to select topics of study that interest them, share those with other students who might be “unfamiliar” with a topic, and inspire a kind of peer-teaching. Plus they are current. (Kelly Gallagher talks much about this topic.) Textbooks are dated the day they are accepted for publication b/c of the lag time, so, like Jeff Jarvis, I think teachers need to access experts available via podcast, TED, etc. (Why lecture on science when MIT puts it on-line for you, yadda yadda. That said, the role of the classroom teacher changes, and we need to teach teachers about and how to function in this new role). And, having students practice multimodal text production is, in CCSS language, a 21st century skill. BUT–and this piece is what is missing from all these “wonderful” iPad in classroom-type projects–students must be trained to “read,” evaluate, and produce meaningful/quality artifacts (for lack of a better word) using this new mode/genre, and I won’t debate here the difference. Let’s call it a genre–with conventions. There are elements that make some blogs/wikis/tweets better than others, and until we teach those conventions and train students to discriminate (TRAIN over time not in one 90 minute block), then we are simply offering another distraction from meaningful, transferable, authentic learning. And part and parcel of this project must be the same kind of sustained training for classroom teachers (we can do dumb shit on smart boards!). This element is neglected (consistently and almost universally) to the detriment of teachers, students, and the technology. If I want students to understand, comment on, and maybe even write a sonnet, then we look at multiple examples and we think about form and why that form is suited to purpose, we look at the elements–rhyme, meter–and the techniques–simile, conceit, assonance–and we spend many many many days parsing and analyzing and understand wherein lies the beauty of the mode. Why a poem and not a story, painting … and every single discipline can cite examples like mine. However, too often, we open the box and think–oh, these kids have grown up with this technology and these modes, so they don’t need tutelage. And, until we add that piece in a meaningful way–for teachers and students–we are simply pandering to technology and not teaching. Rant over.

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      I couldn’t agree more with everything you talk about here. We have gotten into a really bad habit of assuming that this generation knows how to do all of this and they don’t. Again it’s the same skills we’ve always been teaching just in a new context. I agree with it being a new genre. So is blogging but the skills that go with that remain the same.

  15. Savannah Price Reply

    Mr. Utecht,

    My name is Savannah Price, and I am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. We are assigned a teacher blog to comment on every other week, and this week I was assigned to you!

    I have never heard of Flipboard. I really enjoyed reading your post and learning about this technology tool. I believe that it is very useful in the classroom with its ease of sharing and the way that you can personalize your own Flipboards. I agree that textbooks are becoming obsolete, and eventually all books will be available as an e-book.

    I’m glad that I had the chance to read your blog post, and I look forward to possibly teaching with Flipboards in my future as a teacher.

  16. I haven’t used Flipboard yet. Having student curated curriculum content magazines with class interactions embedded seems exciting!

  17. Pingback: Flipped About Flipboard | COETAIL

  18. Vlatka Butkovic Reply

    I totally agree with you, Flipboard is fantastic with the opportunities it offers. I have included it into curriculum I design for the foreign language courses. We’ve been using it as an additional textbook (extra reading material) last year. The students loved it!
    This year we have moved a step forward: the school has founded a Multilingual News Group in which, through Flipboard, all the students can participate. The plan is to encourage them to do the research on certain topics, edit the material, discuss, make a selection and than flip it in whichever language they learn. This is followed by teaching them how to present it to the class, create a website to develop the topic further and connect with kids worldwide through social media.

    I have a question for you: can you flip your own material into a Magazine? It’s driving me crazy and I need it since I am writing textbooks for ESL courses and my great wish is to share it through Flipboard. The books are created in iBooks Author and are interactive in every possible way, with integrated videos, live galleries and hyperlinks. Much of it is lost if I export it in PDF. Wouldn’t it be great if all it took for the students to do in order to work on their interactive books was – sign in on Flipboard?

    Best regards,

    Vlatka Butkovic

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