Could Google Fast Flip get kids reading news again?

Could Google Fast Flip get kids reading news again?

Summary: Although Google's new news aggregation experiment, Fast Flip, debuted to mixed reviews Monday, I see it as an opportunity to get kids to look deeper than the headlines and brief synopses on Google News or

TOPICS: Browser, Google

Back in my day, we'd break out newspapers and discuss important stories in classes ranging from American History to Civics to Journalism. We'd read papers at night and bring in stories to discuss. Current events discussions could fill an entire period and were usually more informative than anything we'd find in our books. Of course, I'm not actually all that old. It's just that the papers we have delivered to our schools tend to get skimmed for the sports pages and the comics now. Why read news when you can get all the sound bites you need from the Web, right?

I'll be honest: even I'm a big fan of Google News. But I'm a bit of news junkie and tend to dig into the related stories and blogs to get multiple perspectives and different angles. The average teenager? Not so much. So although Google's new news aggregation experiment, Fast Flip, debuted to mixed reviews Monday, I see it as an opportunity to get kids to look deeper than the headlines and brief synopses on Google News or

The site, available as part of Google Labs, looks a bit like Google Images mated with Google Reader. Thumbnails of articles from partnering publications (including "BBC News, The New York Times, The Washington Post,...Newsweek,...Cosmopolitan, The Atlantic, Esquire...TechCrunch, and Slate") appear under Google News-style subject headings. Although people younger and with better eyes than me can probably decipher the text in the thumbnails, it's much easier to just click a thumbnail and read the article.

Navigation buttons after that initial click are supposed to mimic flipping pages in a newspaper. I'm not so sure about that, but at a minimum, that click would get students past the headline and into an actual article from at least a relatively reputable organization. The interface would also lend itself to adaptation on a mobile touch-enabled device (apparently this functionality is on the way) or a next-generation e-reader, making it even easier for students to access the content in class.

Much talk has been made of the new revenue sharing model this represents for Google and publishers of the content it's already aggregating anyway. We'll see how that works. For me, though, I'm just interested to see how students respond to fairly traditional news coverage delivered in a novel way online.

Topics: Browser, Google

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • "I'm a big fan of Google"

    Really, Chris? You're a big fan of Google? I had no idea!

    Seriously, though, does your school district know that you are now working full time for Google?
    • Hard to believe

      he actually works for a school district given his blogs. I didn't think any school district would allow someone that incompetent to handle their network.
      Loverock Davidson
      • He is a product of the system

        Schools today chase one fad after another instead of just concentrating on teaching the kids. Chris brings that philosophy to IT. Instead of just providing a stable network with professional tools for his staff and students, he veers off into whatever fad is the flavor of the day.

        And people wonder why our schools are so dysfunctional.
  • kids reading news

    the reason why kids don't read news is because of the content not pagination.
    Kids are tired of left wing propaganda and would be eager to read fair and balanced news written by real and patriotic Americans.
    Linux Geek
    • REALLY????

      This most be a new record for the liberal left media machine being blamed for something. No it's because Generation Entitlement is too lazy to work for something. And why should they when everything is served on a silver platter. Read a book? Nah I'll wait for the cut down and edited movie to come out. non of that extra stuff in the book could be worthwhile if they left it out of the movie version.

      Seriously people today don't want to bother sorting through facts and doing research so they just gobble up whatever is being served up to them in a nice pretty package. This applies to the left and the right btw but I'm sure I'll get flamed by the trolls for being a commie/nazi/facist liberal anyway.

      Get a clue people! neither side can claim ownership of the truth. It's all spin from either side and the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle of all of the bs being spewed out there!
      • Or alternate theory

        I was wondering about responding to Linux Geek, when you posted first.

        If all the news is leftist, it must be that God is a left-winger and therefore causes all events to favor the left.

        However, from my own news sources, events don't seem to favor any political ideology. They just happen.
    • Before they can read news, they

      must first learn to read. Most of them can't. They approximate it, but really have no command of the language, verbal or written.

      The best thing that could be done is remove them from the electronic devices where words and phrases are truncated, and correct spelling is useless.
    • left wing propaganda

      Seems to me a lot of Republicans are trying their damnedest to make Obama and the Democrats out as left wing.

      Lefter wing than the Republicans? True.

      But really left wing? You have NO IDEA what this term means. Next you'll want to bring back McCarthy.

      (I don't live in the USA I simply get fed up with the total insularity of some of its denizens)
  • RE: Could Google Fast Flip get kids reading news again?

    Fast-flip pro: many different sources to get information at student fingertips. You are right about use for teens and up.
    Con: I would not like to see my students (4th-5th)to go to this site due to the explicit photos and articles that are showing up as headlines.
    This site would need to be closely monitored by parents and teachers, no matter what the age of the child.