How Copyright Law, ROI Calculations, and Technology Use Affect Education

This issue examines students’ views of copyright law, educational technology use in some of the world’s strongest economies and the return-on-investment calculations of school district IT decision-makers.

1. IT Spending in Public K-12 Education

The $6.9 billion funds allocated by the federal government to spend on information technology in K-12 public schools for the 2003-2004 school year were divided up as follows:

Other — 7.3%

Networks — 12.9%

Computer hardware — 28.3%

Software ( non-instructional) — 16.5%

IT training, service, and support — 24.4%

Digital and Internet curriculum and content — 10.6%

Source: International Data Corp.

2. Copyright or Copywrong?

Most teens and preteens understand the important points of copyright law, but a majority of youths age 8 to 18 continue to download copyrighted software, games, music and other digital files through illegal file-sharing online networks.

Regardless of the risks, most youths think that illegally downloading software is okay. They cite several reasons.

I don’t have the money to pay for the software. — 51%

I wouldn’t use the software if I had to pay for it. — 35%

Lots of people do it. — 33%

It doesn’t hurt anybody when I do this. — 26%

No one has ever told me not to. — 19%

I will not get in trouble for doing it. — 15%

My parents have said it’s ok. — 8%

Source: Business Software Alliance, April 2004 poll of 1,183 youths conducted by Harris Interactive

3. ROI Calculations: N/A

An online survey of 455 school district IT decision-makers—including superintendents, assistant superintendents, directors of instructional technology and CTOs—found that a majority don’t consider return-on-investment (ROI) calculations when evaluating the effectiveness of technology purchases.

Districts don’t consider or use ROI calculations when buying or evaluating technology. — 66%

Districts use student test scores as a basis for calculating ROI. — 20%

Districts use economic indices on teacher efficiencies as a basis for calculating ROI. — 16%

Districts use economic indices on cost reduction as a basis for calculating ROI. — 15%

Districts consider the total cost of ownership—such as technical support, maintenance and upgrading—important in evaluating technology. — 43%

Source: Consortium for School Networking and Grunwald Associates’ March 2004 survey

Oct 12 2006