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Nothing’s Ever Free: Use of ‘Free’ Digital Content May Have Hidden Cost in the Thousands Per K-12 Teacher

Nothing’s Ever Free: Use of ‘Free’ Digital Content May Have Hidden Cost in the Thousands Per K-12 Teacher

A study from Office Depot, Inc. suggests that the increasing reliance on digital content in K-12 education may be costing more time and money than would be expected and certainly preferred.

After surveying over 5,000 educators and administrators in April, Office Depot found that the minimum cost of copying and printing digital materials for student use is as much as $2 billion. This is in addition to the $8.3 billion that U.S. schools are estimated to spend on digital educational materials per year.

When breaking down the numbers, Office Depot says its survey results reveal that digital content could be costing as much as $3,000 per teacher.

"Results demonstrated that with an average teacher’s salary of more than $55,000 per year (roughly $26 per hour) and more than 3.5 million full-time teachers in the U.S.1 the hidden costs of getting digital content into the hands of students range from $1,500-$3,000 per teacher annually,” Office Depot said.

Though free, digital resources are appealing in the education community for the allure of saving both time and money, the Office Depot results suggest otherwise. 75 percent of respondents said they spend at least one to two hours every week just copying and printing materials; 60 percent said that the move to digital resources has not helped them same time on the monotonous task at all.

Still, there’s no indication that such news will have a negative effect on the digital resource market.

Today, Amazon revealed that it will be trying its hand at creating its own online marketplace of free digital materials for educators. Amazon is just one of the many big names to invest in such efforts. Called Amazon Inspire, it will be competing with already established companies like At the moment, boasts over 1 million downloads of its digital content per day

Read the full study here.

Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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