Are multi function printers worth it for teachers?

I'm an 8th grade science teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'm a big believer of having a printer in the classroom, and I want to upgrade from my single sided b&w printer to a duplex color printer.

My question: In your classroom, has having an all-in-one printer been worthwhile? I can always scan using the copiers in the office. I was gifted some DonorsChoose gift cards for the holidays, and want to make my classroom funds go as far as possible.

I've been looking at the Brother HL-L8360CDW or the MFC-L8900CDW. They're expensive up front, but the per page cost is rediculously low. Like 1/3cent per page b&w. They're the same printer, but the more expensive model ($340 vs $479) has the scanner. Is it worth it for $140 more?

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  1. I’m a bit confused as to why a science teacher needs an MFP in their classroom, or a printer at all. Does your school not have MFP’s for everyone to use?

    I’m in IT so I’d really like to get an idea of what’s important to teachers. To me it seems like one good MFP with a support contract for each block/department would get more value than a cheap MFP in each classroom without a support contract. Of course we have exceptions for art teachers and one teacher with a mobility problem. I also work in a large school (~1500 students) so perhaps if you work in a smaller school it’s more valuable to have more MFP’s.

  2. Viol3tCrumbl3


    Even though I am an Aussie Ed tech specialist, like what others have said, I highly suggest getting tech support to be on your side, either with them getting on board with the selection process or being on board with the fact you wish to do this. I advise the staff at the school’s I am associated with to write up a business case, most of the time the tech support and school will centrally fund and support it if the business case is compelling (meaning the money allocated to that device can be reallocated for other important resources within the faculty or school). If the tech support team can’t support it for whatever reason, ask them if they would be ok for you to take responsibility for the device, the tech support team I work with are fine for us to self support devices if they are aware of it being there.

  3. Sounds like a nightmare to support. But you’re also advocating for USB connectivity over network management, so you are apparently *trying* to build a nightmare to support.

    My condolences to whoever inherits this mess from you. It’s all incredibly short-sighted.

    Edit: nobody is inheriting this. It’s one classroom. Still, the kind of thing that adds barnacles to an IT department when purchases are made outside of department testing and approval.

  4. jm567


    Personally, I’ve always found multifunction devices more problematic from a technical support side. Drivers fail, compatibility issues, etc. you can get a solid flatbed scanner for less than the $140 difference. In my home office, I have a flatbed scanner that I bought for about $100 at least 18-20 years ago. It still works well, and I’ve had no issues with upgrades to the drivers even though when I bought it, I was probably running Mac OS9 at the time.

    I’d just get a printer for printing and a scanner for scanning. The only time I appreciate all-in-one scanners are when they are part of a giant copier-printer-scanner. The type you can do things like scan a 50 page document in a minute or two because it feeds paper like a copier through a sheet feeder. But those are the types of devices you’ll find in the faculty room because they cost a ton.

  5. clcutshaw


    an important thought before you buy anything. You almost certainly have some sort of tech support team, and you want to make sure what they are willing to support. I work in IT for a school district, and we have a list of approved devices. If it is outside of that list, we have a hard time getting parts and support from manufacturers. If you have someone at school level that coordinates your technology, discuss it with them before you make any purchases.

  6. milesmac


    For your own use. Don’t let the kids at it. I had one for a while. It was handy. I printed more things because it was convenient. But eventually it died. Now, I use a phone app for scanning (good enough for our purposes). A printer would save me a four minute round trip to the printer but it turns out all those things I thought I needed to print? I don’t really.

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