Faculty Spotlight: Steven Hornik



ACG 6415 Advanced Accounting Information Systems.  This course deals with Computer and networking security topics.


This spotlight involves the Summer 2013 course that had 22 students.

Lesson title:

Using FlipBoard in the classroom to create CyberSecurity Flipboard


FlipBoard is an app that allows for content curation related to topics of interest.  The result is a magazine-like end product that can be viewed and read on any iOS device or Android device, as well as on the Web.  Once a personal account is created and a magazine started, you can add collaborators (students) enabling them to add, or as FlipBoard calls it, ‘flip’ articles that will appear in the magazine.

In the past, I did this via a Wiki in which students would post links to an article and another link to a page with a summary of the article. Initially I wanted to use FlipBoard as a substitute for the wiki links and pages that students created in the past for an assignment I called ‘Security in the News’.  For that assignment, students had to find an article related to a security breach that occurred, provide a link to the article and a summary of the article.  The summary would include an executive summary as well as a more detailed description of the “hack” and what control/protection could have prevented it.  I use FlipBoard now to have students do the same thing and have them use the comment feature within FlipBoard to provide the summary.

I begin each class with an informal security in the news discussion, where students can bring up things they’ve read about since the last class meeting.  In the past, students would simply describe what they had learned.  Now I have begun to ask the students to ‘flip’ the article they are discussing to our FlipBoard magazine so the other students, as well as myself can read it later if we wish.  These articles don’t require the formal summary as the “Security in the News” assignment, but I let the students know that they contribute to their overall participation points.


The instructor has to create the magazine in order to have control over it (determining the front cover picture, deleting articles that aren’t appropriate, etc.). I then e-mailed the students the link to be a collaborator. Most students were able to sign-up as collaborators, flip articles, and post their comments (which was the assignment beyond participation points).


The FlipBoard magazine can be viewed by using this link: https://flipboard.com/section/cybersecurity-bQ0RcU

  • There were a total of 66 readers out of a class of 22 students. Other people outside of the class seemed to be reading this FlipBoard.
  • There were 3 subscribers. This means that 3 people outside of the class actually subscribed to this FlipBoard. That’s kinda cool!
  • 133 articles were ‘Flipped’ – The velocity of ‘flips’ increased when I mentioned that this was a way that students could earn participation points.
  • 13,989 Page Flips – This one is a bit boggling. If true, it means folks are “flipping” through this magazine.  Quick back of the napkin math says with 66 readers, they are averaging 211 page flips.  Methinks there might be something wrong with this stat, or my interpretation of it.
  • After the class ended, one student continued to ‘flip’ articles.
  • One student e-mailed to indicate that he would be using the magazine as a resource (or as a way to fall asleep – I can’t remember now).
  • On the student evaluations, one student said, “Employ the Flipboard app for future classes” and another said they enjoyed the Current Events part of the class.
  • One student said they were likely to go back to the magazine during the fall semester and read it now that they had more time.
  • No negative feedback on  the evaluations

Overall, I would recommend it.

Overall Benefits:

1) Ease of Use: Once you get the app and become a collaborator (all pretty easy to do) and if necessary install the web browser bookmarklet, it’s very easy to ‘flip’ an article into our magazine. It is a one-click process.  It is less work than the wiki I was using before.

2)  Extended use: As a result of the ease of use, I asked students to start posting articles they discussed at the beginning of class when we talked about the latest news related to IT security.  This is something I’ve always done, but I never had students post the articles to the Wiki because of the steps involved and frankly what the result would end up being – just a long list of links as opposed to a new article in a magazine.

3) Aesthetically, it is just nicer to use FlipBoard.

Challenges and Solutions:

Regarding access, only one student didn’t have a Smartphone/tablet. This required the student to use my phone to create an account.

The invitation link to the students is a bit unreliable and it is only good for a certain amount of time (I think I read 30 days).  The problem is that some students will get an error message and it is not a very clear one.  This left a few students in the summer unable to actually ‘flip’ and article. For the upcoming Fall semester, I just created the invitation link on my wiki page describing FlipBoard.  I’m simply asking students if they have a problem to email me and I can send them an invitation via email to become a collaborator.

One challenge was that there is not a great interface to see the list of collaborators or to manage them.  Some students seemed to join and become a collaborator, but then couldn’t flip or comment (or most likely just didn’t figure out how) – they ended up simply e-mailing me their comments.  During grading, I varied between using the web interface – which is a bit easier to identify flipped articles that have a comment – and the actual app.

Since the summer, the web interface allows anyone to view the magazine via the web, but I couldn’t find out how you could post a comment to an article that had been ‘flipped’.

Regarding large class sizes, you are allowed up to 250 collaborators.

Next Steps: Create and distribute a survey to better understand the FlipBoard experience for students.

Posted in Faculty Spotlight
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