New Research Underscores K-12 Shift From Print to Digital Materials

By guest blogger Audrey Armitage

The K-12 market has shifted significantly from print to digital over the past several years, with digital content and devices now occupying 37 percent of all sales to school districts, according to a recent analysis by Education Market Research.

The company’s research is based on a survey of publishers and ed-tech companies nationwide, meant to explore digital education trends.

In 2014, companies reported using either a digital or online medium for product delivery 83 percent of the time, a jump from 41 percent five years ago and marking the first time digital delivery of products has surpassed print.

Companies reported delivering print materials 65 percent of the time in 2014, a slight increase from 61 percent five years ago.

Robert Resnick, founder of Education Market Research and author of the report, said the upswing in the use of digital materials first began around 2009 and has continued to grow at a rapid pace each year.

He speculated that this may “go into the history books as the year the balance finally shifted from primarily print to primarily digital in the K-12 school market.” 

Print materials are currently ahead of digital in terms of K-12 market activity, making up 44 percent of sales in 2014. But overall print sales decreased 2.6 percent from 2013 to 2014, while digital sales grew by 2.6 percent during that time period. Based on the trends in the report, Resnick expects that the digital medium will slowly overtake print in the coming years, but that print materials will still maintain a viable presence in schools.

Resnick cited the substantial increase in interactive whiteboards and tablets in the classroom as a contributing factor in the digital shift. As schools work toward achieving 1-to-1 student to computing device ratios, Resnick predicted that the number of tablets in schools will double from 2014-15 to 2015-16.

The delivery of content across all academic subjects appears to be moving in the digital direction, but the use of digital devices is growing most quickly in science and social studies classes, Resnick noted. Mathematics follows, and reading comes in last in terms of presence of technology and pace of digital integration.

The growth of opportunities in the education technology market has expanded the number of companies working in that space, Resnick said. Bigger companies with broad interests across technology, like Google and Apple, are now competing with traditional education vendors and K-12 startups for school district business.

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2 thoughts on “New Research Underscores K-12 Shift From Print to Digital Materials

  1. And this is a complete disaster. Kids need BOOKS, real books, to read and study. Especially in Mathematics, where having a real book is a tremendous advantage, where one can flip back and forth from the examples to the homework problems. Try that on a computer some time if you think it is not different or "easier". We are cheating kids out of actual learning by forcing this ill-advised (ok, idiotic) switch away from actual texts. And, more and more research is emerging proving that paper resources are superior to digital for learning.

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