Should Schools Shift Print Dollars Toward Digital Resources?


According to a new report released Wednesday, more than 85 percent of teachers and principals want access to Web resources that will help them provide differentiated instruction to students. Does this mean that funds spent on instructional print materials should be shifted over to support digital media? According to ed tech firm Thinkronize, which commissioned the research, it does.

"It is evident from this survey that principals and teachers need and value resources that foster differentiated instruction and that much of this material comes from the Web," said Thinkronize CEO Randy Wilhelm in a statement released to coincide with the report. (Thinkronize is the developer of netTrekker d.i., the education-focused Internet search engine.) "We need to re-look at the $4 billion spent on instructional print materials and invest those dollars in digital resources that provide every child with a customized learning experience, every day."

More than 60 percent of teachers and principals agreed. The third-annual "Schools and Generation 'Net" survey polled 497 K-8 principals and 796 K-8 teachers last month and found that these 60 percent believed their districts "should be spending more of their instructional materials budgets on Web-based resources and other digital resources." (There is a margin of error of 2.7 percent for combined principal and teacher data, 3.5 percent for teacher data, and 4.4 percent for principal data in the report. Research was conducted by Interactive Educational Systems Design.)

It also found that while schools are using the Internet for educational purposes--with 75 percent of teachers reporting that they do so on a regular basis and the same percentage agreeing that the Internet has been integrated into the curriculum at their schools--many are concerned about about the quality and appropriateness of the content their students are finding. More than 80 percent of teachers and principals reported that they were "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about age and grade appropriateness of the resources students are accessing.

Some other findings from the study include:

  • More than 70 percent of principals and almost 70 percent of teachers reported that they need "assistance in finding resources that meet state curriculum standards."
  • 80 percent indicated that multimedia Web resources are needed to "stimulate and motivate their students."
  • Only 44 percent of teachers indicated that they believe "their students were able to think critically about the accuracy, authority, and possible biases of the information sources they encounter on the Internet and in other media."

Further information about the third-annual "Schools and Generation 'Net" survey can be found at Thinkronize's site here.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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