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Business Education | Textbook Alternatives | Educational Resources

Should I Pay for Business Education Curriculum? 4 Problems with Free Resources

January 13th, 2022 | 8 min. read

Mike Cescon

Mike Cescon

With past experience in teaching, a couple of degrees in writing, and an upbringing immersed in medical jargon, Mike is positioned well to hear out the most common questions teachers ask about the iCEV curriculum. His goal is to write content that quickly and effectively answers these questions so you can back to what matters - teaching your students.

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If you’re looking for educational resources to help you teach your high school business course, you’ve probably asked yourself a really important question: Should I pay for my resources, or should I try to find free ones? 

After all, there are several benefits to using free resources to help you teach your high school business course. Negotiating with an administrator for funding to buy that new textbook can be a hassle, but it’s one that you avoid by seeking free material. Likewise, if you’re only looking for a few activities or exercises to pad out your curriculum, why bother paying for a resource when you can just download one for free? 

However, not every business teacher has these problems. At AES, we work with thousands of them every year, and we know that many are either too inexperienced or simply lack the time to use free resources to build their curriculum. 

In response, we’ve compiled their complaints in order to help guide teachers like you in deciding whether free resources are suitable for your course. 

In this article, you’ll learn some of the most common complaints business teachers have about using free resources to build their curriculum:

  1. It Takes Longer to Create a Business Education Curriculum from Free Resources
  2. Free Resources Can Make Your Business Course Less Cohesive
  3. Using Free Resources Often Takes More Experience
  4. Free Resources Can Be Unreliable

By the end of this article, you’ll have a greater understanding of the problems associated with using free resources to build your course, so that you can decide if they’re a good fit for you.

1. It Takes Longer to Create a Business Education Curriculum from Free Resources


Time is a huge factor in most teachers’ lives. Between lesson planning, lecturing, and grading student work, many teachers find they don’t end up having a whole lot of extra time throughout the week to take on additional duties or responsibilities. 

While teachers often find ways to get by, time management can become a huge problem when trying to compose a business education curriculum out of free resources. 

The bottom line is that many free resources are simply not as comprehensive or up-to-date as paid resources. After all, providers who offer free resources usually aren’t as dedicated to quality assurance, and the materials they offer might only cover a few lessons or a unit, rather than a semester. 

How Will This Affect Your Business Curriculum?

What this means for you is that you’ll likely have to cobble together your curriculum using a variety of free resources--and that will take time. 

For example, some free resources teach financial literacy well, and you might use one or more of them to build the finance unit of your business course. However, that’s just one unit, and you’re going to have to look elsewhere to find lesson plans on topics like marketing or economics

Depending on your class, this constant searching and scrambling can eat up several hours of valuable time every week, and for many teachers, that’s simply not sustainable.

2. Free Resources Can Make Your Business Course Inconsistent

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There are many factors that make up your classroom environment, and one of the most important is the cohesion of your lessons and units. Having a consistent classroom--with clear expectations and interlocking lessons--can be a stabilizing force for your kids, one that puts them at ease each day. 

No student wants to walk into a classroom that feels erratic or disjointed, every lesson or assignment a total departure from the last, every day going in a totally different direction than the day before.

However, if you create your business curriculum from a variety of different free resources, you may be contributing to an environment that feels inconsistent to students. 

This leads back to the issue of free business education resources often being less comprehensive than paid resources. Because you’d be drawing your course material from at least 7-8 different sources, much of that material may feel disjointed or inconsistent to your students.

How Will This Affect Your Business Curriculum?

If you draw from many different free resources, your lessons are far more likely to vary in format and quality. 

For instance, if you’re teaching a finance unit, Next Gen Personal Finance is a provider that offers free resources you might find helpful. Their material is quite robust compared to many other free resource providers, with dedicated units, lesson plans, and activities capable of filling up weeks of class time. 

On the other hand, when it comes to more niche topics--like international business--the resources you find might be more too specific or disconnected. The Institute of International Business, for instance, offers a list of free material, but it often covers more obscure topics like Entrepreneurship in Cuba or Women’s Empowerment in Ghana. 

Because these free resources are so different in content and quality, using both in your classroom might lead to mental whiplash for students. 

They might find their finance unit was great, but their international business unit was too specific or didn’t have as many engaging activities or lesson plans. As a consequence, their learning might have suffered. 

3. Using Free Resources Often Takes More Experience

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If you’re just getting started teaching business--or even just teaching--you have a lot on your plate. You need to figure out what topics you’re supposed to teach to meet your course standards, how to best manage your classroom, what teaching style fits best with the course and students, what your assessments will look like, and more. 

In other words, you probably have a lot to learn and a lot to do, and you simply might not have the time to craft a new curriculum using free resources. 

After all, building a curriculum with free resources both takes longer and may lead to less structure in the classroom. 

More experienced business teachers will already have a handle on the essentials of teaching and will be better able to navigate these resources and choose the best ones for themselves. For new teachers, however, this could be overwhelming to handle, and they would likely be better off sticking to resources that have a solid structure, good pacing, and are easy to use. 

How Will This Affect Your Business Curriculum?

If you try to build a curriculum from free resources as a new business teacher, you may be biting off more than you can chew. 

You already have a lot to figure out, and taking on even more responsibility might make you feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and perpetually out of time. 

Besides that, many new teachers work best when there is a sense of structure in the classroom, and there’s no guarantee the curriculum you build from free resources will have that structure. 

While experienced teachers may have the insight necessary to experiment and create a curriculum entirely from free resources, new teachers should probably play it safe and stick to textbooks or digital curriculum systems. 

4. Free Resources Can Be Unreliable

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Often, non-profit organizations or educational institutions offer free resources to empower teachers by providing them with quality material. However, these organizations usually don’t have these resources as their primary focus. Instead, they might specialize in professional training or consulting, and simply offer these free educational resources as a bonus. 

While this works out for frugal teachers, it also could mean the free resources you’re buying aren’t as up-to-date, accurate, or reliable as you’d like them to be. After all, the organization that offers them doesn’t have a financial incentive to update the material or ensure its accuracy. 

In other words, if you need material that’s guaranteed to be reliable and align with your course standards, you should probably opt for paid resources. 

Companies who offer subscription-based educational resources make it their business to keep their course material up to date and aligned with their customers’ needs. They even have dedicated teams of professionals working to develop their curriculum and ensure its accuracy. That level of detail simply can’t be matched by most non-profit providers.

How Will This Affect Your Business Curriculum?

As a business teacher, it’s essential that you teach your students information that is accurate, reliable, and aligns with your course standards. Depending on the free resource you use, however, this might not be guaranteed. 

Because so much of the free material available online is offered by organizations that have other primary areas of focus, some of that material may wind up being wildly outdated or otherwise unreliable. 

You may end up teaching your students business concepts that are no longer relevant, or financial best practices that go against what modern experts recommend. 

It’s even possible that, when it comes to the most important, emerging business topics, you might not even find free material that covers them at all. 

If you want to focus on reliability in your course material, it’s hard to go wrong with a paid resource like a textbook or digital curriculum, since they’re far more likely to carry accurate information. 

Need Alternatives to Free Business Curriculum Resources?


It’s important to remember there are still several benefits to using free resources--it just depends on what you want to get out of them. 

If you need a few supplemental activities, lessons, or exercises to reinforce a business curriculum you already have, free resources can be great. They’re often short, quick, and you don’t have to rely too heavily upon them. 

This also applies if you’re an experienced teacher looking to build a custom curriculum from scratch and don’t want to spend any money doing so. In this case, you probably have the experience necessary to successfully navigate the free resources out there, and choose the best ones for you. 

However, for business teachers who are new, looking to save time, or want a greater sense of structure in the classroom, free resources should probably only be used sparingly. Using free resources as your primary course material simply takes more time and more experience to do successfully, and you’d likely be better off just paying for a resource. 

If free resources sound like they wouldn’t be a good fit for you, then the next step is to find out which paid resource is right for your class. To that end, check out this guide comparing two of the most popular paid resources: textbooks and digital curriculum

In this guide, you’ll learn the ins and outs of each resource to discover which is a better fit for you, including how easy each resource is to implement, and how well each engages students. 

Download Your Comparison Guide: Digital Curriculum vs. Textbooks