The Impact of Online Learning on Digital and Non-Digital Supplemental Learning Products: A Comparative Empirical Analysis

Publication Date



Online learning has grown in popularity among K-12, higher education, and professional education students. Unfortunately, prior work has shown that increased usage of Information and Communication Technologies such as online learning increases “technostress”, which leads to lower job satisfaction and performance outcomes. We examine how changes in online learning influence demand for supplemental learning products, a large and growing industry that students use to augment their public education. Digital products scale easily and can provide low-cost solutions for students, but it is not clear whether the rise of online learning in public schools will accelerate the usage of supplemental digital products or dampen enthusiasm due to increases in technostress. We partner with a large U.S. educational platform that serves K-12 students and analyze demand over time for their digital and non-digital products. Using exogenous shocks to online learning induced by state-level mandates during COVID-19, we find that as online learning increases in public schools demand for non-digital supplemental learning products increases, while demand for digital products decreases. The results suggest that students may be using non-digital products as a way to cope with rising levels of technostress brought upon by increases in online learning. We find that these effects are moderated by demographic variables, which presents preliminary insights related to educational equity. Our findings offer substantive implications for both firms in the educational space and policymakers: as public schools increasingly move lessons online, there will likely be an increased demand for non-digital educational materials that can be consumed offline.

Document Type



economics of digitization, digital learning, difference-in-differences, school closures, learn- ing loss, COVID-19


Business Administration, Management, and Operations




SMU Cox: IT & Operations Management (Topic)