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Feb. 1, 2012, marked the first Digital Learning Day, a “nationwide celebration of innovative teaching and learning through digital media and technology.”

As budgets and staffs continue to shrink at schools in the U.S., digital tools such as NIE (Newspapers in Education) can help bridge the gap between time and resources.

NIE is an educational partnership between newspapers and schools, allowing students access to a digital version of the daily newspaper. Along with the daily paper, NIE programs also offer additional educational materials teachers can use to supplement their textbooks – providing up-to-the-minute information on important news events and capturing history as it is being made.

Nurturing a better-informed society not only encourages students to think and be curious about the world around them but also helps them develop compassion and tolerance for different cultures. According to the newly released U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, more than 40 million foreign-born people lived in the U.S. in 2010.

We should be encouraging our students to learn about what is going on around them – all the great textures our American melting pot has to offer. As an added bonus, studies have shown that students who use newspapers score higher on reading comprehension tests and develop stronger critical thinking skills.

River City Studio is proud to work with a number of newspapers around the country, delivering NIE content to thousands of teachers and students. If you know any teachers – private, public, home-school – encourage them to enroll in their local NIE program. It’s free, and our children deserve it!


First of all, I love paper and ink and will probably always be a print girl at heart.

With print, you are dealing with ink on paper — very concrete. You can touch the papers, get exact-color ink swatches, print and test for an accurate example of your end result. On the Web, you are dealing with multitudes of operating systems, browser variations, computer rendering capabilities, etc. Plus, web development is constantly changing. Web pages aren’t built today like they were even one year ago, and to be successful designing for the Web it is good to have an idea of how the page will be built.

In his helpful post, “This Way to the Web, Print Designers!,” ( Khoi Vin explains, “The ratio of constraints to possibilities is far less kind in digital media, and understanding those constraints — understanding how to finesse them and how to subvert them appropriately — requires an attention to detail that bores all but the most dedicated.”

All the designers I know consider themselves slaves to detail. Unfortunately, the details we sweat over are the ones that make the web challenging. The constraints of the Web lead to somewhat unpredictable translations of fonts, spacing and colors. I hear a consistent theme from all my designer friends as they move deeper into the digital world — how do I communicate my layouts with developers to get the end product I desire?

A good place to begin is to understand that developers truly do not think the same way designers do. They are like engineers — many of them are brilliant problem solvers, but they don’t have a creative bone in their bodies. This is, of course, my personal opinion based on experience. However, my point is they do not SEE things the way designers do. They do not see design details, only the overall structure of the page and how elements must be built to work together on the Web.

What I have found most helpful is not to limit interaction with the development team. Daily interaction with our in-house development team has helped me understand how they think and how best to communicate with them. For example, I don’t expect them to ask questions after they receive layouts. Most devs will just try to figure it out and make it work “as best they can,” regardless of what their decisions do to the design. I must point out the most important areas and ask them if my design is doable before they start to build it out.

There is also an important lesson here If you are a client seeking Web dev services. There are plenty of designers who can create basic code, and there are certainly also some developers who understand the basics of design, but rare is the person who excels at both. Look for an in-house team that combines design and development. You will get a beautiful website with a back-end structure built to meet your operational needs.