Go paperless: Save time, money and … the trees

Going paperless – is it a dream or a real possibility? Paperless classroom saves not only paper and money but also time you spend on photocopying. It allows you to store materials and student evidence on online platforms  and makes them more accessible for students. It gives students an opportunity for  collaboration and peer-to-peer feedback. But is it possible to go 100% paperless? If yes, how to start? Let’s have a look at the benefits of a paperless classroom first.

If you value your time, going paperless is an option for you. It just makes a lot of routine things like looking for resources, photocopying them etc. more efficient and faster. It frees up time you can spend doing your job – teaching :). Reduced amount of photocopying saves the institution a lot of money. And, maybe most importantly, it gives you a chance to reduce the negative impact of human consumption (paper, ink etc) on the environment.

Paperless classroom can be accessed easily by all students anytime and anywhere on a range of devices – laptops, tablets or mobile phones. It gives teachers a lot of flexibility in planning a range of courses, modules or classes in a way that is more personalised and more tailored to students’ individual or group needs. With just a few tweaks, a teacher can re-design or adapt one already prepared class/module for different learners.

Paperless classroom is not just a collection of resources stored online. A crucial element of a good paperless classroom is students engagement through a range of activities involving  collaboration, promoting reflective thinking and encouraging creativity.

Ways of using paperless classrooms

  • To store students’ projects
  • To store students’ homework 
  • To store students’ assessments (encrypted)
  • To share materials and tasks with students
  • To communicate with students  
  • For feedback 
  • To let students work collaboratively
  • To allow independent/remote/mobile studying 

GOOGLE CLASSROOM

Best paperless classroom tools

Padlet

Another platform I have been loyal to for years. Just because it is brilliant! May be used for collaborative wall for students writing, projects etc. as well as individual purposed for example course programme. 

Google Suite for Education

My students have instant access to Google Suite with a range of educational apps: Google Classroom, Google docs, sheets, forms and drawings. Google Suite allows a numbers of AddsOn such as Explore (for research), Rubrics (for feedback) or Mindomo (for mind-mapping). 

 

Planbook

I have been using Planbook for at least 8 years. I use it as a traditional timetable with lesson plans, attachments and links. 

 

So, shall we ditch course books?

The answer is NO! 

Despite obvious advantages, there are also challenges and obstacles teachers and students have to face. Some of them occur unexpectedly and it’s difficult to anticipate them. For some, however, we can prepare:

  • Some students might not have the internet/the device at home
  • Some students need more assistance and support for a range of reasons
  • Real face-to-face interaction is limited
  • Spending too much in front of a laptop or looking at a smartphone screen affect health
  • It can be costly

The obvious answer is to keep the balance and, if you are worried that paper is dead, please, fdon’t! Just watch this

Watch an excellent talk delivered by Jake Weidmann  who explores the connections between the pen and how we learn, think, and carry our cultural heritage.

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Written by 

ESOL teacher at Edinburgh College