I’ve spent years trying to find a good application that would let students create their own individual online “newspapers” with personalized content.
Finally, over the past two months, four excellent ones have opened for business.
I found another excellent one today, which is why I’m writing this post.
In order to make it on this list, the application must be free; make the content available in an attractive and accessible way for English Language Learners; and make it very easy to sign-up and add new preferences.
Obviously, a fair amount of the information that shows-up in these feeds is going to be quite challenging for English Language Learners to understand. However, since it’s on the topics they choose, and shown in an attractive form, it will certainly provide high-interest reading material that one can hope they’d want to ‘fight-through” a bit to comprehend.
Here are my choices for The Best Sites For Creating Personalized “Newspapers” Online:
iCurrent is the site I just discovered today, and it looks great. It’s super simple to add personalized news “channels” and the content is very accessible. It has one problem, though — you can’t make your “newspapers” public. So, even though you can share individual channels (it uses thousands of sources) and individual articles, you can’t post the url of your newspaper so others can read it, too. If and when they add this ability, iCurrent will become a favorite of teachers like me (and students like mine).
Guzzle is a new web application that lets you create your own personalized online newspaper. It looks good, but be sure to click on the “extended mode” to display it — the other ways are not particularly visually attractive. The only negative is at this point it does not appear you can make your “newspapers” public.
Scoop.it lets you first identify a topic. Then, it continually finds items on the web related to that topic in a nice interface. Then, with one click, it lets you “scoop it” into your own personalized newspaper (that’s what I’m calling it, not them) which you can then share. It’s an ongoing process. I really like it. Even though it’s not open to the public yet, I read about it in Mashable (that same post shares a list of other “curation” sites worth exploring — I think Scoop.it is the best on their list) and they have invitations available here.
Trapit is a new web tool that lets you create a regularly updated personalized newspaper (or a “trap”) on any topic you want. It’s very easy to create “traps” and it has a very accessible and attractive interface — my students would be able to easily use it. The only negative I could see was there didn’t seem anyway to make your traps public, though you could share items that appeared in your traps. Perhaps I was missing it, though. You can read more about it at Read Write Web.
News 360 lets you easily create a personalized newspaper. It’s been around for a bit, but it appears to only recently begun allowing registration by email — I hadn’t written about it before because Facebook log-in would not have worked with schools. One difference it appears to have from several of the other personalized virtual newspaper sites is that it’s “smart.” In other words, it will analyze your Google Reader or Facebook feeds to determine interesting stories in addition to letting you determine your subjects of interest.
Themeefy lets you grab pretty much anything you want off the Web, and add your own materials, to create a personalized magazine that can be shared/embedded wherever you want. It looks pretty neat and simple. Though it’s different from the other tools on this list (all the other sites there provide automatically updated resources on the topics of your choice, while you have to manually — at least I think you do — create your magazine at Themeefy), for right now I can’t think of any other place to put it, so I’m adding it here.
Pulse is apparently a very popular mobile news reading app, and it just became available on the Web. Like most of these kinds of tools, you can identify your interests and it will show related stories in an engaging interface.
Feedback and suggestions are welcome!
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