Site URL: AOL.com
This is one in a series of site reviews that take a look at how major news Web sites can be used in the classroom. See also reviews of HuffingtonPost.com, GoogleNews.com, CNN.com, MSN.com, MSNBC.com, FoxNews.com and Yahoo.com.
Content: Though many remember AOL for its dial-up Internet service, the company has rebranded itself as a destination. As part of that move, the company has increased its focus on creating original content and building strong content partnerships. The company also bought the Huffington Post (see review here) and owns local news site Patch.com. Because AOL owns HuffPo, it mixes its news in with others’ sources, giving the site a huge volume of stories.
Design: The design places a revolving scroller on the top that tends to be heavy on feature and lifestyle stories. Finding the actual news generally involves scrolling below the fold, where an easy-to-use “Latest Headlines” feature sits. That's also where the navigation begins. Finding sports, business and other areas requires a lot of scrolling, but once you figure that out, it's all clear and easy to find.
Review: AOL.com has a good depth of news from professional reporters. Though they do use pieces from HuffPo, those pieces seem to be the ones by actual journalists. The site does lean very heavily on lifestyle, entertainment and plain old fluff pieces, but all the news is there if you look for it a little.
Bottom Line: An excellent news site, AOL has everything your students need, but it also has a lot that will distract them. In some ways, AOL.com presents itself as an entertainment site that also has news. This mix will work fine in the classroom as long as students know how to distinguish hard news from “soft.”
Article by Daniel Kline, EducationWorld Contributing Editor
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