Considerations of having a paperless classroom

How would a paperless class change your role as a teacher?

The idea of never using the photo copy machine again is one of undying appeal! I can only imagine the many ways stress would be removed from my life at school without fighting with that monstrosity in the library closet on a weekly basis!

Seriously, it would change my role as a teacher because the management of physical, tangible paper would be unnecessary. It would probably save time in classes as well. In general, in face-to-face classes, I don’t use a lot of paper. Occasionally we read music from paper, but often we are learning through the whiteboard, or through rote process. In the online courses that I teach, this change has been made for me. As an online instructor, I haven’t ever given or received on piece of paper from a student. In this instance, the decision to go paperless was a forgone conclusion with no input from me whatsoever. I will say that the course works well in a paperless format.

How would paperless classes change learning?

Paperless classes will change learning for the face-to-face music classes that I teach quite dramatically when students need to create and remember ideas. The fastest and most reliable way for students to keep a record of their musical creativity is to write it with a pencil on a paper. As my job is to help build musical skills, I believe paper is an easy, reliable way to record ideas. The absence of paper in these situations would require that some electronic device be used. It is feasible to consider that students could simply use a notepad function on an iPad or something like that for this purpose, and in the future that seems possible. For now, the students don’t have access to this kind of technology, so we will probably still use the occasional ½ sheet of paper for this purpose.

In the online course, the lack of paper changed learning in nearly no noticeable way. When students need to submit a paper, they simply upload it to the LMS and I grade it there.

How would you measure learning in a paperless class?

I would measure learning the same in a paperless class as one filled with reams of it—according to student achievement. Use of paper and achievement have a weak corollary relationship in all the courses I’ve taken and taught. In the online course the achievement is measured within the LMS dependent upon student contributions related to content. In my face to face classes, student learning is measured by various assessments both on paper and not on paper. The absence of paper, would simply mean either we use dry erase boards or an electronic device. Either way, if the assessment required students to contribute to and submit an artifact, some way of making this possible would need to be found.

Would a paperless space make it easier or harder to build a learning network? Why?

Paperless spaces might make it less challenging build a learning network. The fact that students would need some form of digital interface, and LMS, a workspace of some kind where they would go to access and submit content they need or create for the course would also include opportunities for building and strengthening a learning network.

Paperless learning is a part of the future, and less paper is certainly being used than in the past. It stands to reason that there will be need for paper long into the future, but the advantages of not being bound to only use paper are undeniable. By having choices for how to share, contribute and submit content in courses, teachers and students can utilize options that work best for their particular situations and resources.


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