This pilot program is using $65,000 of vacation donation funds from Globe subscribers to pay for 75 iPads and projectors – 50 in the Boston Public Schools and 25 in Stoneham High School. Digital subscriptions to BostonGlobe.com will accompany the iPads in each classroom, and teachers will be given a quick onsite tutorial. The program will run through the spring semester, then will be evaluated through teacher focus groups, according to Robert Saurer, the Globe’s director of customer experience and innovation.
“We believe that digital kids turn into digital adults, to put it simply,” Saurer says. “We want to provide easy, portable access not only to our content, but to the greater world of content on the web – deployed in the classroom daily, streamed live, as the kids are learning.”
Traditionally, NIE has distributed a mix of print copies and digital content, using subscriber vacation donations. So far, there have been about 400 orders from teachers, encompassing 2,600 print copies and 2,400 digital subscriptions. Demand for the program, which serves students from kindergarten age through 12th grade, often exceeds the donations available, Saurer says. As costs for paper, ink, and distribution have risen, however, NIE has been looking for new digital opportunities.
“In the past, we have had to rely on the limited number of desktops or laptops available in schools. Computers are often not available for social sciences classes, or for other work where students would benefit by being able to do their own online research.”
Saurer says he hopes to learn from the pilot program, incorporate feedback from teachers, and expand to other schools in the future. “We hope that if we plant the seeds now, we can build a new, state-of-the art Boston Globe NIE Program,” Saurer says.