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NIE and E-editions

Marina Hendricks of NAA received several responses to her request for information on NIE and e-editions. Below is a summary. It’s lengthy but definitely worth reading.

Names, papers and other identifying details are omitted as a courtesy to those who provided info. Thanks again to all who replied.

Paper #1

Advantages:

  • Cost savings (no paper, ink, delivery, etc.)
  • Using technology (keeping up with what the kids use and are interested in)
  • No lost papers
  • No papers piling up at the school (as reasons or reminders to cancel)

Disadvantages/Limitations:

  • Not all schools have the technology or capability to use them
  • Unless each student has a computer, individuals cannot look through the e-edition at their own pace or based on what suits their interests (no more “Find a story about…” or “Find a photo that interests you”)
  • Changing the teacher’s frame of mind from hard copy/paper to paperless/e-edition

We did not give them a choice. I think if that happens, then they will all stay in their comfort zone and continue on the same old path. We may have lost some, but gained many. All of our sponsored programs fill up very soon after making them available and we have waiting lists for all.

Paper #2

Usage of the e-edition compared with the print edition is very low. For my paper, it started with less than 25% usage and has dropped lower this school year. Teachers express initial excitement, but then find it much harder to incorporate the e-edition than they expected. A couple of the largest NIE programs I communicated with confirmed similar results.

This is an ABC shell game. It may count as circulation, but if I have teachers who barely use it and I am able to get the affidavit (which could be a challenge this year), is this really ethical circulation or is it just a numbers game? Most circulation departments don’t seem to care as long as they get the numbers, but to me it’s just false circulation if the e-editions are not being used. When print editions are not being used at the school, I almost always hear from the teacher—sometime even the janitor—that papers are piling up and need to be reduced or stopped.

It takes the E out of NIE. I have one charter school where all of the 500 students use our paper in class and for homework assignments. They pick up the paper as they come and use it at various points during their classes each day. Other classes I’ve visited have the students pick up the papers as they enter for free reading before the class begins, followed by a group reading lesson using the paper. How can these things be done effectively with the e-edition? Also, if the usage is low and we reach fewer teachers and students than with the print editions, this effectively takes the E out of NIE.

There is little way to go 100% electronic. For example, 75% of my teachers are in language arts with most of the rest being in social studies. They have 2-3 computers per class. Most have limited, irregular access to the electronic projectors needed to place the e-edition on a screen to do lessons in the classroom. I have queried my teachers about training programs and have also given them opportunities to try out the electronic edition. Only about 10 teachers expressed interest in training and most said they wouldn’t find the e-edition useful other than for research projects once in a while (that is one of the big potential strengths, searching the archives). I’d have to cancel most of my present teachers and start over again to go 100% electronic. I don’t see how I could reach the present 11,000 copies a day I’m budgeted for.

There are wonderful aspects to e-editions. I focused on media specialists. They can use the e-edition in their computer labs. For doing research papers, using the back-issue archives is a wonderful tool. E-editions should be a targeted part of NIE programs for those teachers who really are able to use it effectively.

Paper #3

Pros:

  • Helps to connect the technology most students are already comfortable with to their classroom learning.
  • Allows for easier access to the newspaper at home (for those students who have Internet access) for homework assignments.
  • Allows for easier access to videos and other learning materials that appear on the Web, especially those that appear on our Web sites.
  • Allows us to pass along daily learning tools that relate directly to the news in that day’s newspaper—rather than a broad assignment that isn’t specific.
  • Easier to handle for the younger students than the “large” hard-copy newspaper.
  • Allows us to specialize the learning environment toward students based on their grade level or subject they are studying. For example, we can now pass along specific learning tools to those students involved in the Stock Market Game—business tools, other online opportunities, etc.
  • Obviously, there are economic advantages.
  • Printable—rather than needing to waste the paper of the entire newspaper, teachers can simply print the article(s) that they want from the newspaper and distribute it to their class.

Cons:

  • Most schools don’t have a one-to-one student-to-computer ratio in their classrooms, meaning that the newspaper will either be used in center-based learning areas or as a projected image by the whole class.
  • Some teachers find that if students are on computers, they aren’t as focused and may not be on the page they are expected to be on.
  • Many teachers in our area aren’t as comfortable with the technology. Once they use the e-edition, they get it, but it takes them a little while to get over that initial fear of the unknown.

Paper #4

We’ve had our e-edition for five years. I pushed it with our teachers this year but had only one sign up for total e-edition. In two weeks, she switched back to paper. Why? Trouble getting the computer lab.

I gave my NIE teachers log-on information so they can get online to plan lessons. Some of my teachers have SmartBoards and may be using the e-edition in addition to the papers. I’ll know more with the end-of-year survey.

Overall, my teachers do not have the technology to go paperless and they like having the paper in the students’ hands.

Paper #5

We started e-editions in the fall; however, we continued print copies for the schools in our four main counties. When we dropped the outside counties, we probably lost about 25-30% of our total NIE circulation. In January, we stopped print delivery for all middle and high schools, leaving only elementary schools in our main four-county area with print. So since the beginning of this school year, we’ve probably lost 50-60% of our NIE circulation.

We are doing training now to try to convert middle and high schools to using the e-edition and the use of it is gradually building. We’ve found that once we demonstrate it for teachers, we actually have some who are enthusiastic about it, and of course others who aren’t. It seems we are picking up new teachers with the e-edition, but we have lost many of our long-time users who are so accustomed to the hard copy.

Benefits of e-editions:

  • a tremendous savings for the company due to print and delivery costs
  • an opportunity for teachers to more thoroughly incorporate technology into their curriculum
  • students really like the e-edition
  • bells and whistles like enlarged print, e-mail and print capability, Spanish translation, access to archives and the wonderful search features available

Negatives of e-editions:

  • lack of technology in the schools – including few or old computers, slow Internet connectivity, lack of availability of SmartBoards and LCD projectors in individual classrooms, inaccessibility to computer labs on a regular basis
  • lack of technology in the homes, so teachers are reluctant to make homework assignments using the e-edition because all students don’t have Internet access at home
  • loss of ability of each student to have his/her own newspaper – takes away the free reading aspect of newspapers (we had several high schools who were previously receiving one newspaper for each student in the school once a week for a required reading period – they don’t feel the e-edition works well for this activity)
  • we’re worried that going to e-editions may affect our vacation donations and corporate donations as well, but it’s too soon to tell

Negatives of e-editions for elementary (we feel if we are required to eliminate print for elementary teachers and students, we’ll lose almost all of them):

  • Students need hands-on experiences with newspapers – cutting, pasting, circling, etc. Young students cannot pay attention to the E-edition on an LCD projector

This fall’s affidavits were returned in good numbers, but we do worry that because we’ve forced the switch, many teachers may balk at signing affidavits for e-editions if they only used them once in a while.

Paper #6

Our paper has had a non-replica e-edition for at least 5 years. I offer it to teachers, and I especially worked on a couple of middle school teachers who I thought would be interested. No dice. One local journalism professor gets online editions for his students each semester, but so far the elementary, middle and high school teachers prefer print. I feel lucky that I haven’t been given ultimatums, like some of my NIE colleagues.

I see at least two reasons for what’s going on in my area. First, many of my teachers are experienced teachers who use technology sparingly. Second, most of our schools have few computers and even fewer SmartBoards.

That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next five years shows a change, as newer, more tech-savvy teachers use NIE, and as more schools update their technology programs. In the three years I’ve been in our NIE department, I’ve certainly seen a surge in teachers who feel comfortable using e-mail.

Lastly, since our e-edition is non-replica, I do not put all special NIE pages online. I largely advertised that my fall election series would be available in both venues, and not one of the approximately 75 educators who wanted that specific program elected to go for online editions.

Paper #7

Pros:

  • more affordable for paper
  • easier to deliver
  • access to back issues
  • translation feature
  • audio feature
  • click-through on ads, web sites, addresses

Cons:

  • limited computer time for teachers
  • limited comfort with technology among many teachers
  • they miss the tactile experience of the paper
  • not good for special-needs students

For more information about NAA and NIE go to naafoundation.org