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Print Trends for Educational Institutions

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Paper remains the lifeblood of schools. Printers, copiers, paper and books are as important as tablets, laptops, interactive screens and computers. However, with the rise of hybrid and remote learning, educators are reevaluating when and how to use printed materials and when to rely on digital technology.

Printed materials are still vital, and, in some cases, the preferred format for education. In fact, a recent survey found that students prefer print reading over digital formats. Even during school closures, most students relied more on print materials than online sources for reading.[1] 

However, digital technology continues to take over more and more roles, especially as remote learning has exploded. For example, a study by OnCampus Research found e-book usage was up 9%, the largest year-over-year rise in any format.

To understand why paper and printed materials continue to be important to the educational process, let’s dive into some important recent research and findings.


One simple reason paper and printed materials will never be entirely replaced by screens is Computer Vision Syndrome. This is the physical fact that screens cause eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes, according to the American Optometric Association.[2] People who use mobile devices for the majority of their visual input have higher rates of musculoskeletal disorders, muscle strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck or shoulder pain and fibromyalgia. 

Researchers have also found that brains interpret printed and digital text in at different rates. For example, students who type lecture notes instead of writing their notes by hand tended to write more, process less and perform worse on recall tests. They found overall that people generally read digital text 20-30% slower than print.[3]

However, digital technology offers obvious benefits for remote learning, and makes it easier to distribute homework and study guides. A key finding from the OnCampus survey is that while printed lessons remain important, more expensive print materials (course books, journals etc.) are being replaced by e-books and learning management systems (LMS).[4]

And despite higher initial costs, laptops and tablets reduce the amount schools must spend on paper and printing supplies. Roughly speaking, a school with 100 teachers will consume an average of 250,000 pieces of paper annually.[5] A school of 1,000 students spends between $3,000-4,000 a month on paper, ink and toner, plus service and maintenance costs. 

Given these competing benefits of print and digital technology, how can a school balance its technology investments?


First, schools need to scale their printer fleet to meet their current needs. We urge schools to take an inventory of its printer networks, determine how its devices are being used. We have helped hundreds of districts to reduce fleets, often simply by replacing single-function machines with more powerful multifunction devices. For example, we helped one school district save $70,000 annually (in addition to a $92,000 energy rebate).

For further cost savings, print management software can help a school’s IT staff control jobs according to policies that encourage and enforce good behavior. For example, you might route large jobs to dedicated high-speed printers, display popups to ask users to confirm single sided output, automatically delete print jobs with incorrect paper sizes or to suggest an alternative printer when a device is offline.

With hybrid learning, students and teachers may not always be in the same location at the same time. You can safely and securely enable remote and mobile printing options with print management software. You can allow users to print from mobile devices and even bring your own device (BYOD) to school. No matter the operating system, the location, the file format or the brand of printer, print management software can enable printing while also tracking, monitoring and including mobile printing in your accounting practices.

With a print management software solution, documents can be scanned directly from devices and into your online learning tools. Then, once captured and processed, documents can be exported automatically to a selection of destinations. With document management software, users can scan documents and send them via email or directly into a folder or backend system, including Google Classroom or a similar platform.

Today’s Managed print software solutions can benefit schools of all sizes in unexpected ways. If you’d like to discover the benefits of print management software for your classrooms, contact us today for a no-cost, no-obligation Managed Print Needs Assessment.

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[1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666557321000045

[2] New York Daily News, “iStrain: Tablets and iPads Can Cause Eye Problems,” articles.nydailynews.com, Mar. 14, 2012

[3] Kate Garland, “Computer- vs. Paper-based Tasks: Are They Equivalent?,” Ergonomics, Sep. 2008

[4] https://universitybusiness.com/covid-accelerated-shift-to-digital-materials-are-they-here-to-stay/

[5] http://www.softwareshelf.com/HTML/products/prod_materials/23/PMP_Academic_Story.pdf

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