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In a World of Digital Everything, Do We Now Have Tangible Nothing? Where have all the print resources gone?

Just as an FYI–this is NOT an anti-digital anything blog.  Educators having access to technology and digital resources has helped us make leaps and bounds in connecting with one another and providing more well-rounded experiences for students.  This is merely an opinion piece about print resources based on an observation I made recently.

I was working with a colleague a few weeks ago and found out that they were about to teach one of my favorite books.  English teachers all have a few pieces that they hold near and dear to their hearts, so I was EXTREMELY excited to hear this news.  I told my colleague that I would go through some of my resources and see if I have anything that they could use to help with the text roll-out.  

I went home and foraged through my garage to see what I could find.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the specific resource I was looking for (I probably gave that away years ago), but I did find a lot of other resources that could be useful for the team.  Later that week, I brought the materials in and began talking about them with the rest of the team. I’ll be honest, it was like going through an old photo album or yearbook.  Through the memories, I also had a revelation:  I  was unsure if teachers now kept an arsenal of print resources.  When I inquired about it, the response was that no one had been to the teacher store–which was an unexpected response. 

As I began to reflect, I couldn’t put my finger on when it occurred, but I could not recall many of my colleagues using print resources anymore.   I know that this is not everyone, but someone may need to hear this.  My unsolicited advice to teachers everywhere:  make sure you have an arsenal of print resources available to you.  

This is not a massive library, but your personal resources that you can take with you wherever you go.  Now, before you say it, this is not an anti-digital anything blog.  In fact, anyone who has worked with me knows I utilize digital resources and have always strongly encouraged my teams to do so (even pre-pandemic). Now, the big “but”… BUT, you should have access to a variety of tools and resources–and this includes print resources.

We often teach some skills and content year after year–it’s nice to know you have those resources available to you.  In addition, some platforms are subscription-only, and you lose access to items once you no longer have the subscription.  Sometimes computers crash, external hard drives crash, the internet goes out, or you need emergency assignments in a pinch.

Again, I am not discouraging anyone from using Google Classroom, digital learning platforms, or ordering digital resources; however, if you are in the classroom, or going into the classroom soon, don’t turn your back on print resources.  Start building a small, personal library of tangible resources that you'll always have available to you.  You never know when you will need them in a pinch!

What are your thoughts?  Are people still using print resources and building physical libraries? Do we still need print resources--has that time passed?

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