It should be no surprise that print continues to hang on in schools as a medium for learning. Still, the inexorable pull of digital continues to eat into the print base. Simba Information estimates that total sales of digital instructional media reached $4.89 billion in 2017, compared to $4.7 billion in 2016, and captured a 56.6% share of the PreK-12 instructional materials market.
In making its estimates for its new report, Publishing for the PreK-12 Market 2018-2019, Simba used a mix of data provided by publishers on their digital/print splits, existing Simba research on the testing market and data on sales of children’s ebooks. The split also reflects Simba’s understanding of the growing use of digital in the manipulatives category and digital delivery of classroom magazines.
Federal, state and local policies increasingly support the shift to digital classrooms with states providing guidance, definitions, vetting policies and practices for digital materials to help ensure that digital materials are available to learners anywhere and all the time.
The large major publishers say they have been developing programs digitally from the ground up. They attribute the persistent preference for print in schools, however, to a reluctance to move to a digital environment or to a lack of infrastructure for more digital options.
Because of the inroads made by digital materials, the old way of doing business—having the large textbook publishers make their moves in major adoptions, followed by supplemental publishers coming in to fill in specific gaps—has given way.
In fact, one of noticeable features of the demand for instructional materials in the PreK-12 market in recent years has been the strengthening of the preference among educators for access to a variety of instructional resources—online and off—from a virtual-reality tour of the Everglades to an old-fashioned hard-bound edition of Treasure Island.
The increasing availability of technology devices and networks in schools has allowed teachers to expand their arsenal of resources for any lesson to be able to meet students at their different interest and ability levels.
Another concept permeating education is having students take more control of their learning, of personalizing the learning process. This has meant increased use of technology, including adaptive programs and maker spaces, as well as the use of literature—fiction and non-fiction—over the use of traditional textbooks.