I have an Issuu

Written By Dave on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 | 10:44:00 PM

I was presenting at a conference in Rhode Island, and after my workshop I was engaged by one of the participants. He was a tech savvy fellow, and we sat and chatted about educational technology for a spell. In addition to some practical apps, he introduced me to Issuu (pronounced "issue"), which is a cloud-based tool for hosting and distributing content. At first, I wasn't all that impressed, but as I toyed with it, I gained some confidence in how it can be used.

So I'm not saying that this is the cat's meow, but I think there are some valid ways to use it in the classroom. Essentially, Issuu merely hosts PDF files and allows the user to share the link. But the beauty of the product is how the PDF is rendered - it is transformed into an online, page-turning publication (complete with reflections of the light on the shiny pages). And it renders in mobile devices. Even iOS.

I just think it's a really neat way to distribute information (especially because it can be embedded, as seen below). Editors can add hyperlinks (like the table of contents) so readers can skip to different parts.

The viewing options are pretty neat. Consumers can zoom in and out (navigating while zoomed in takes a little getting used to), go full-screen, or have an interactive scroller at the bottom. I admit the flexibility and the packaging is pretty sweet. 

Screen shot of the interactive scrolling feature in Issuu.
Check out that sweet scroller!

Issuu also has strengths as a curating tool. It is easy for a user to make a "stack" (a collection of publications from Issuu that they want to share). This is fun for any user, and could be relevant for educators. I've created a small stack on different ways to leverage the stack feature across your institution.

Example of a stack

The social layer of Issue is pretty neat; users of Issuu can choose to follow people (so you can get updates of my recent publications), as well as the ability to follow stacks (so you will be notified of additions to my curated stacks you are following). Everyone gets a profile, so you can market yourself (or add to your complete online presence).

So here is how Issuu could be used in education:
    Have students create a free account and host their work. Of course, this lends itself well to art students (and to a lesser extent, the humanities). But for students who need an online portfolio, this could be an inclusive solution.

    This is a fancy, eye-popping way to distribute the school's literary publication (and grant access to archived volumes, all in one place). One or two editors should have the rights to publish, but the school can embed (or send the link) the document right from the homepage.

    Teachers can create their own (or have a talented, computer savvy student create a fancy one) study guide or review guide. Embed (or link to) the guides in the class homepage or school website.

    Similar to a portfolio for students, a teacher could curate a portfolio of all the work for their students (or department, or school). Because someone who curates a stack can place the same file in multiple stacks, it is not hard to have stacks that reflect different hierarchies.

    Teachers can curate stacks for students to read. If a student "subscribes" to the stack, they will always have access to the most recent collection. Besides curating stacks of external publications (for instance, a Graphic Design class could be assigned a stack of several publications to peruse), a teacher could also assemble a stack of their own generated content. Or, PDF renderings of class notes (especially for people teaching with SMARTBoards or pen-enabled devices).

Issuu also has functionality as a document aggregation tool - called SmartLook - for your webpage. Scope out this quick video that demos this ability:

Do you use Issuu in your classroom? Any other ideas of implementation? If you have some thoughts, leave a comment (or create an Issuu)! 

Also, check out my Issuu collection (both original content and some stacks to scope out.

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