Recent research has shown the importance of printed materials in education, resulting in better comprehension, retention, concentration, vocabulary building, and memory.

Yet, many schools, colleges, and universities are ditching the printer and moving towards 100% digital learning.

What can the education sector do to embrace print and the proven benefits it brings to children? Let’s find out.

The research on print in education

Integraf, the European Federation for Print and Digital Communities, has recently completed a four-year study into the effects of digitalization on young people’s reading abilities.

Called E-READ (Evolution of Reading in the Age of Digitalization), the study examined over 170,000 children across nearly 200 academies in 19 different countries. The findings were clear: print is best in education.

Despite the rise in e-learning and digital materials in education, printed materials generate significantly better learning outcomes.


  • Achieved superior cognitive achievement with printed text, including concentration, vocabulary building, and memory.
  • Retained more information and had better plot recall when working with printed long-form text.
  • Achieved better learning outcomes thanks to the sensory and haptic experience of paper.

Overall, students learning from digital devices progressed one-third as much as they would when reading on paper. And this is across all age groups, education levels, and digital experience levels – even digital natives. Children growing up surrounded by technology still significantly benefit from and exceed with printed educational materials.

As a result of the findings, Integraf has called for urgent action to ensure print retains a significant role in education and warns that failing to do so could cause irrevocable damage to reading, comprehension, and critical thinking skills.

The benefits of print in education

Print has significant cognitive benefits in an educational setting, but that’s not all.

Printed materials in education also improve:

  • Access: not every child has access to a digital device at home. Printed materials ensure all learners can continue learning outside the classroom.
  • Support: not every adult can or wants to interact with digital devices – over half of adults prefer reading in print. Printed homework, textbooks, and report cards ensure a children’s responsible adult plays an active role in their education.
  • Inclusion: print gives you the freedom to adjust the size, color, and format of materials – allowing you to ensure every learner can read and understand educational texts.
  • Cost: it’s significantly cheaper to give every child a printed document than a tablet – allowing you to spend more money on educational experiences than digital devices.
  • Experience: print gives children experience using and working with both printed and digital materials. When they come across printed text later in education or life, they won’t have a problem.

And let’s not forget that a printed text never runs out of battery.

The key message is that digital education and familiarity are essential, but not at the expense of printed textbooks, activities, report cards, exams, letters, assignments, and more.

How to use print in education

The main challenge for schools using print in education is finding an effective and affordable way to do so. Educational budgets are tight, and IT departments are stretched.

However, this shouldn’t put you off using print in education. Especially when there are ways to improve use, enhance efficiencies, and lower costs.

1. Get a print assessment

A managed print service (MPS) analyzes your specific print needs and implements a step-by-step solution to optimize efficiency, reduce cost, eliminate waste, and patch security vulnerabilities.

By using an expert to analyze your current print set-up, you ensure you have the best print set-up going forward.

2. Choose the right printer for your needs

The question between inkjet and laser printers has been around for years, and many schools choose inkjet for the lower upfront cost. However, laser printers can deliver long-term savings, with cheaper toner refiles, higher page yield, faster page-per-minute, and a significantly longer life expectancy.

Maybe you use an inkjet printer in art rooms – where you need to print high-quality images – and a laser printer in the school office. The important thing is having the right printer for your needs.

3. Control printer access

The average student wastes 3,200 sheets of paper each year. Luckily, modern printers have secure access functionality. You can restrict printer access to teachers, departments, or even rooms to control who can print.

You can also use access information to monitor print use. This helps you identify where most of your print costs originate and whether people follow best practices when printing.

4. Consider additional features

Today, printers come in all shapes and sizes, with various features for increasing efficiency and maximizing affordability. Features that are useful in an educational setting include:

  • Duplexing – printing on both sides of the paper to reduce paper consumption.
  • Connectivity – allowing staff to print from the cloud, their tablets, or mobile phone.
  • Quotas – giving students a free print quota that they can’t exceed.

5. Use a managed print service

As well as analyzing your printer needs and sourcing the best and most cost-effective devices for the job, an MPS provides ongoing support.

This includes troubleshooting, resource monitoring, and maintenance, which is ideal if you have a small or stretched IT department.

Relevant resource: Top tips for finding the best managed print partner

6. Consider multi-functional printers

A multi-functional printer comes with additional features such as scanning, emailing, copying, and faxing. For a busy educational setting, a multi-functional printer is a great way to save time, space, and expense.

Tip: You don’t have to have the same printer type or even brand throughout. You can use an expensive high-quality printer in art and design departments, a high-volume multi-functional printer in the administrative office, and smaller “home office” printers in the classroom.


There’s no question about it – print is fundamental to education, and the more we move towards digital learning materials, the more we risk young people’s education.

These tips on implementing printers into an education setting help you uphold the importance of print in a way that’s easy to manage, affordable to sustain, and beneficial to all.