One of my favourite tools at the moment is Flipboard which allows you to collect web links in a few clicks or taps and turn them automatically into a stylish dynamic multimedia magazine! Perfect for a BYOD (bring your own device) environment, the free app is available for iPads, iPod Touches, Android devices and Microsoft tablets and makes it easy to share reading material in a visually appealing format with anyone with an internet connection. There is also a bookmarklet which you can add to your browser letting you quickly save articles you think could be useful for later on in the year or as part of your planning for a particular set of upcoming lessons. You could save this article right now if you wanted!
For language teachers, Flipboard could prove to be an effective way of amassing engaging up to date web content for a unit of work which promotes intercultural understanding and authentic language from the target country. The service could also be used to stretch and challenge gifted and talented learners with harder texts or for encouraging independent extension work. Pro-active colleagues could use Flipboard for collating useful resources for improving their own professional development too. Students could also curate their own magazines showcasing their work online as part of an e-portfolio and embed them in a blog or school website. Considering today’s date, wouldn’t a magazine celebrating the European Day of Languages be a wonderful idea?
As part of my preparation for my keynote at last year’s ICT and Languages conference (ILILC4), I used Flipboard to curate all the articles which I felt fitted the agreed theme of ‘putting the pedagogy in the technology’. This helped me to develop my thinking on the key points I wanted to include in my presentation as well as offer an insight on the background reading I had done. At the end of the talk, instead of giving delegates the option to download my PowerPoint there and then which would have been time-consuming, I shared the magazine via a link, QR code and Twitter which meant anyone who wanted to, could access the content instantly.
I find the easiest way to add articles I discover via social media and the web in general, is by opening them in the Safari browser on my iPad, tapping the Flipboard bookmarklet on the favourites bar and tapping Add. You can have several magazines on the go at the same time and the bookmarklet remembers the last magazine you updated indicated by a tick. So once your bookmarklet has been set up, adding links literally takes a few seconds. I’ve installed the Flip it! bookmarklet on to browsers on my PC and Mac meaning whichever device I’m using at the time I can save an article to the same magazine for access later.
To explore further possibilities, I would recommend you check out Sue Water’s fantastic blog post The flip-a-holic’s ultimate guide to subscribing, curating and sharing using Flipboard which should keep you busy for a while and Jeff Utecht’s post Flipboard as a textbook replacement. For more ideas on how to Get inspired, create and share with social media, why not come on the course I’ll be leading on 5th December in London and find out more about how to harness the power and potential of the web for your lessons and professional development?
Thanks to the internet, our access to resources which can enhance language learning is now unlimited. The key though from an MFL teacher’s point of view is to find quick and easy methods of archiving material we come across and present it in an attractive and compact way so it is suitably palatable to students. Flipboard is not the only tool which facilitates social bookmarking. There are others out there such as Delicious, Diigo, LiveBinders, Pearltrees and Scoop.it to name a few, but for me Flipboard stands out from the crowd. If you haven’t tried it, I suggest you get browsing!