When It Comes to Digital Literacy Curriculum, Free Isn’t Free

by | Mar 13, 2018 | News

As the importance of digital literacy skills continues to increase for young students and expectations become better defined, educators are seeking out resources and curriculum that will meet the demands of state initiatives, standards, and more. At the urging of a recent Education Week article, “…educators need to start adopting curriculum that covers digital literacy.”

We, at, are excited that growing numbers of educators are recognizing the importance of providing their students with instruction on critical digital literacy skills such as keyboarding, digital citizenship, computational thinking, and business applications that includes spreadsheets, presentations, and databases. With educators making a commitment to providing instruction on these critical skills, it’s not uncommon for them to seek out free resources to meet their needs.


Why Free Isn’t Free

It’s understandable that spending decisions and budget environments can sometimes be difficult.  But, the feedback from customers who have tried this approach is often contrary to their expectations, “Free Wasn’t Free” at all.

Using free resources often becomes a challenge for teachers, schools, or districts for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Alignment: Free resources lack appropriate alignments to national and/or state standards.
  • Equity: Without a curriculum created to be shared across classrooms, districts may find that certain students gain instruction in these critical skills while other students miss these opportunities.
  • Resources: Free resources usually don’t have the instructional support materials and lesson plans that allow teachers to most easily implement these lessons into the district’s offerings.


The “Hidden” Costs of Free

While free resources can supplement and support cost-based curriculum, it’s important to consider the “hidden” costs that can come with free resources.

  • Time: Curating a collection of free resources requires a significant commitment from teachers through a vetting process – finding, reviewing, and testing content for a specific grade or group of students takes up their time and takes them away from their other job responsibilities.
  • Training: Organizations that provide free resources typically do not provide the training necessary to help teachers be most successful with the materials. This can then result in needing to hire a third party to provide training on the new resource so that it’s used within the district.
  • Relevance: Free resources often go unmaintained and become out of date. Once curriculum is no longer relevant, the cycle of evaluating, vetting and spending time looking into new resources becomes a routine.


While today’s students know how to swipe, tweet, and post pictures on social media, these students often do not possess the skills to be successful on online assessments, in college, and the workplace. To help bridge the skills gap, it’s important that educators seek our resources that will save them time, provide resources and fit their needs in the long-term. Using this helpful estimator tool, see what it costs to bring digital literacy curriculum to your district.

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