Examining the Budget Implications of Digital Content

As schools and districts are all too well aware, the cost of printed curriculum will never be less expensive than it is now; and it’s likely to rise in price as the expenses related to creation and production go up. Therefore, cost is a major consideration in making the move to digital content.

When examining budgetary aspects of digital content, there are several areas to consider.

  • Device availability and cost. The use of digital content does not require the classroom to have a 1-to-1 program in place. Creative teachers have learned how to make judicious use of just a handful of classroom computing devices. However, some curriculum requires every student to have a computer in hand. When comparing options, consider what the recommended student/teacher-to-device ratio is to make best use of the digital content, and consider the initial cost of the devices as well as their maintenance as a part of the budget discussion.
  • Print vs. digital. If the school has sufficient student computing devices available to make the use of digital content practical on a daily basis, the evaluation should compare the cost of the digital content to the cost of the print materials it would replace.
  • Moving to OER. Are high-quality open educational resources (OER) available for the subject area for free? What costs would you incur by making use of OER, such as modifying the curriculum to fit your district’s learning standards or providing sufficient time to teachers to identify the OER to be used in the classroom?
  • Sustainability. Are any and all costs sustainable over time? For example, if a grant enabled the school to implement a given learning curriculum but it comes with licensing that needs to be renewed each year, when the grant is gone, will the school or district be able to continue supporting that curriculum?

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