The Reality of Improving Learning Outcomes with Printing

Michelle Petrovic

As schools rapidly shifted to remote learning and hybrid learning models during the pandemic, new challenges emerged. Students in under-privileged communities are facing some challenges in greater numbers than other student populations. Limited Internet access, a lack of computers, or outdated technology makes learning harder. Educators—and the teams supporting them in school districts—have been working to find new strategies to help students succeed. Here’s a closer look at how printers are helping at-home students and educators in hybrid settings achieve more.

What the Pandemic Taught Us about Learning at Home

The pandemic offered one of the first large-scale opportunities in recent history to explore how students both struggle and succeed with learning from home. The digital divide gave students different challenges. Yet across the board, educators have embraced what Education Week calls whole student learning. There’s a greater focus on building relationships, taking a project-based approach to learning to get kids the support they need, and ensuring that well-being is part of the educational conversation. 

The concept of whole student learning is leading to larger questions: What support do students need to ensure they thrive if learning remotely? What steps can educators, school districts, and parents take to support students in the classroom and online, while limiting the number of those who fall behind? In a recent piece from the MIT Technology Review, the authors explore the different strategies being used to ensure that learners don’t fall behind. Technology is leading the way, and one surprising area many school districts and educators are looking toward is printing.

One significant trend is promoting virtual identity safety—or giving each student what they really need to learn. Identity safe classrooms “are those in which teachers strive to ensure students that their social identities are an asset rather than a barrier to success in the classroom. Acknowledging students’ identities, rather than trying to be colorblind, can build the foundation for strong positive relationships. This, coupled with challenging opportunities to learn, can help all students begin to feel they are welcomed, supported, and valued as members of the learning community.” From a technology standpoint, taking this approach allows students to customize their learning needs. For example, a student who struggles with reading and might benefit from the ability to print text in different colors could thrive instead of being penalized for learning differently. Providing the technology support students need to thrive in remote and hybrid environments is also opening up important conversations for the future of learning.

And one of the most interesting innovations that’s being explored is around how printing can improve learning outcomes.

Reading Digitally vs. Reading on Paper

Whether you’re teaching younger students to read or looking for strategies that help older students retain information, reading is often the keystone. Students accustomed to learning in traditional classrooms are often reading from printed books, or a mix of digital sources and printed supplements provided by teachers. At home, many were forced to do all their reading and learning digitally—on a laptop or a tablet, for example.

Studies show that the impact here isn’t simply one of delivery; it can have lasting impacts on the way students learn. Education Week reports that “among young adults who regularly use smartphones and tablets, just reading a story or performing a task on a screen instead of on paper led to greater focus on concrete details, but less ability to infer meaning or quickly get the gist of a problem, found a series of experiments detailed in the Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.” While reading on a screen makes it easier to retain details, it potentially leaves students struggling with the information. Less ability to infer meaning or quickly get to the core of a problem can greatly inhibit a student’s ability to retain key messages, react to a challenge or assignment, or meaningfully contribute to classroom or group discussions.

Education Week also reports that reading on paper can promote more abstract thinking. “Using a digital format can develop a ‘mental habit’ of triggering a more detail-focused mindset, one that prioritizes processing local, immediate information rather than considering more abstract, decontextualized interpretations of information,” wrote researchers Mary Flanagan of Dartmouth College and Geoff Kaufman of Carnegie Mellon University.

Reading in Color Can Improve Reading

The black and white text on an e-reader can be easier to port around. However, research has revealed that the ability to use color in written text can help improve a student’s ability to learn. Think about the physical process of reading. When a student is reading a text written in English, eyes begin on the left side of the page and sweep right until the end of the line. While the eyes move back to the beginning of the next line—the “return sweep”— the reader gets a moment to think about what they’ve consumed.

Yet, the Atlantic reports, “That sweep is also where many of us mess up. We lose time. Most people don’t go all the way back to the first word, for example. We tend to land on the second or third word in a line, and then make another backwards movement to get to that first word.” Color gradients can be used to help pull our eyes along. Imagine a paragraph where each sentence is a different color. For a student who’s struggling to focus and develop the skills or motor coordination behind the return sweep, the ability to print text in different colors like this at home can be a significant advantage.

Using Color to Support Educational Experiences

The ability to print goes beyond just capturing reading benefits. The ability to use color in lesson plans, images, and text can help improve retention, create specific learning moods, and help students process different pieces of information. As ATD reports, color affects learning in several key ways:

  • MIT researchers found that people performed 5–10% better on tests when color was used; the effect also boosted memory over time. 
  • When presented with information in black and white, the brain fills in known colors. For example, if you were to show an image of strawberries in black and white to individuals who had seen the fruit before, they’d likely recognize and envision them as red.
  • Human N Health reports that different colors can help stimulate the brain and help process different things. For example, blue may cultivate calm and creativity while red makes it easier to focus on a repetitive task. Pink can have a calming influence, yellow can stimulate happiness, and orange can align with critical thinking and memory.

What’s the Best Educational Technology Printer Solution?

If you’re a school district that’s determined to give students the ability to print at home, or a district looking for a cost-effective solution to improve learning outcomes through better classroom access to printing, Hewlett Packard is the brand that comes to mind. HP’s Learn from Home solutions have made it easier to adapt to learning from home, whether your students are fully remote or you’re creating high-volume printing solutions that make it easier for educators to customize the hybrid classroom to their needs. 

HP PageWide Pro is a powerful solution for educators or departments with high-volume needs, including printing supplemental materials to drive student success in remote and hybrid learning scenarios. Models are available as both printers and multi-function devices that let you scan, fax, and copy. In addition, the PageWide Pro offers these benefits:

Love the features, but afraid to buy this printer in case it doesn’t deliver? HP has eliminated the risks with a money back guarantee that you can read more about here.

HP OfficeJet Pro is a popular choice, with its small footprint and built-in wireless features. It’s easy to set up and works well in a busy house where learners need quick access to printed documents. With its all-in-one design, users can print in color or black and white, scan, copy, and fax. Reasons why at-home learners love it include:

  • Using the HP Smart print app, it’s possible to send documents to your printer from anywhere.
  • It scans both sides of a page at once and can save time with Smart Tasks, simplifying recurring needs such as scanning homework to submit.
  • It offers best-in-class security and self-healing WiFi that helps keep you connected and keeps your data safe without drama.

Do your students need access to printing—especially color printing—to help address learning challenges? Unleash their creativity, make it easier to read, and give teachers the tools they need to develop strong abstract thinking skills. Don’t navigate this important decision alone. Contact Connection today to speak with our educational technology experts. We can help define your goals, recommend the best printing solutions, and get printers to the locations you need them most—quickly and affordably.

Michelle is a Product Manager for Workplace Transformation at Connection. She has more than 10 years of experience with endpoint devices in both the consumer and commercial space. In her free time, Michelle likes to travel.

One thought on “The Reality of Improving Learning Outcomes with Printing”

  1. Clifton Veach says:

    I would like to see more in depth affects of using color in print or display that affects memory, retention and overall visibility & contrasts that are better seen, backed by research.

    Good stuff, working on a research project, credits given when applied.

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