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Paperless Teachers And Their Students Are More Efficient And Motivated

Every day in the paperless community, we hear about new technology that promises to make our lives easier and more efficient. Much of this tech is specifically created to bring efficiency to the classroom and enrich the learning experience.

While the focus was once on whether or not to use these technologies in the classroom, now the attention is on which tools to use, how to best apply them, and how to transition to a paperless classroom as easily as possible.

While the use of tech in the classroom hasn’t caught on as quickly as it has in our everyday lives, it is growing. An online search for technology in education brings news stories, reports, and even scientific studies on how teachers are bringing technology into their classrooms, and the effects it’s having on learning and engagement.

Students and tech

Students of this generation know how to use mobile devices so they are more likely to be open minded to technology than their teachers, who probably came up in a non-tech school environment.

Outside of school these kids are interacting with technology every day.

Because today’s kids have grown up in a completely different digital landscape than their teachers, they are more eager and willing to take advantage of technology inside the classroom.

 

Teachers and tech

Younger teachers of the tech generation are also more technophile, like their students, thus it’s a logical consequence that they want to bring digitization to schools.

Teachers with years of experience using a paper and textbook curriculum are more likely to want to stay with the teaching method they are comfortable with.

Software and app developers are aware of these issues and have created many programs, apps, and learning management systems that are efficient and easy to use.

This turns the teacher’s concern from, “How hard will it be to have a paperless classroom?” to, “Which apps and programs will best support my paperless classroom?”
In this article we will look at the efficiency and enhanced motivation that paperless technology brings to the classroom, for both students and teachers. We’ll also review some of the resources available to make the transition to a paperless classroom easier.

 


Why paperless students are more efficient and motivated

Ongoing research is showing that using technology in the classroom can help motivate to today’s students and assist in better learning (Source).

In a paper titled, “The Impact of Digital Technology on Learning: A Summary for the Education Endowment Foundation”, Professor Steven Higgins states, “Overall, the research evidence over the last forty years about the impact of digital technologies on learning consistently identifies positive benefits.”  (Source)

Positive findings like these show that students benefit from using technology in the classroom, and it inspires teachers to seek out technological resources to enhance their curriculum.

When deciding which hardware and software to bring into the classroom, it makes sense to consciously decide where the problems in day-to-day learning are, and use the technology to help ease those problems.

Some things that students struggle with in school are:

  • Losing papers
  • Lack of engagement/boredom
  • Short attention span
  • Carrying around heavy books in a backpack
  • Missing, or not understanding, the lecture given by the teacher
  • Being limited to the paper resources that were given for research and learning
  • Makeup work takes extra time and the assignments or tests can be hard to access

Choosing technology for a paperless classroom can address these problems for kids and make school more streamlined and engaging.

For example:

No more lost papers

Losing papers is a problem for students and teachers. Having all of the assignments in an online platform on the cloud, and having a way to hand in all work through the online platform means that nothing will be misplaced.
The minute a student hands in their work the teacher has access to it. In addition, the minute the teacher has finished grading the work, the student can access the score.

Students are motivated to engage with their schoolwork

A study by Mark D. Granito and Ellina Chernobilsky set out to find the impact technology has on a student’s motivation to learn and retain new information. The results showed that the students did best when they were given the choice of which medium to use. (Source)

Because today’s students have grown up in a digital landscape, they are increasingly inspired and motivated by technology.


Working with, instead of against, student’s attention span

Students of today live in a technology saturated world. They are used to accessing information quickly. When they can use time-saving apps and online search in school, they can act on the information they learn, search for supplemental materials and complete assignments more quickly than through traditional methods.

Being able to get information and complete projects faster gives students motivation to get their assignments completed.

No more heavy backpacks full of books

News stories have featured students with chronic back problems caused by carrying heavy backpacks.
When every textbook and assignment is available on an iPad, the weight of the student’s learning materials becomes negligible.
As a bonus, besides having access to their entire curriculum, students can also access extra resources like instructional videos, museum websites, research papers, and more. This extra material makes learning a richer, more engaging experience.

Students can save instruction presentations for future study

Apps like Notability allow students to take an audio recording of a lecture while simultaneously taking handwritten notes in the same digital notebook. When the audio recording is played back, the handwritten notes will also show up on the screen in the order that they were written down.
This helps tremendously for students who have a different learning style or need some clarification on a point. It also makes sharing a lesson with a student who missed school very easy.


No more limits on resources

Being paperless has the benefit of making research easier. In a traditional setting, the teacher would give the student an assignment to be completed. The student then had to use the textbook and resources from the library to conduct research to complete the assignment. With a paperless curriculum and internet access the research portion of the assignment is quick and can begin immediately.
With an app like Notability, a student can have their initial source of information, a page for notes, and a web browser open on the same screen simultaneously, thus speeding up research even more.

Students can access all of their assignments online.

If an assignment was missed the student can easily go into the class syllabus and locate the assignment for the day without having to go in early or stay after school.

 

Why paperless teachers are more efficient and motivated

One of the biggest frustrations teachers face in the classroom is the effective use of time. So much time is spent on non-learning activities. Taking roll, lining up, cleaning up, handing out papers, handing in papers, making copies, stapling, etc., turn from minutes into hours.

Time is such a huge issue for teachers that many of them spend personal unpaid hours refining their curriculums, grading papers, making copies, and gathering resources for lessons. (Source)

Another equally frustrating struggle is lack of money. School supplies are expensive. Books, pencils, paper, desks, chairs, a temperature controlled building… the costs add up.

An article written by Ben Johnson looked at how much paper a school with 100 teachers on staff would use, and how much it would cost. Johnson states, “…that school would use 250,000 piece of paper annually. With that, a school like this would spend approximately $7,500 per year on printing on this paper and paper itself costs $25,000, not to mention costs of copy toner and service agreements.” (Source)

 

Teachers love to give their students a great learning experience. When the budget for classroom supplies runs out, many teachers use their own money to buy the needed supplies.

A survey released by the US Federal Department of Education shows that 94% of teachers admit to using personal money to purchase supplies that can’t be fit into their limited budgets. (Source)

Teachers also feel frustrated trying to adjust their teaching style and resources to the varying needs of their students. Some are visual learners, some auditory, and some kinesthetic. Creating a curriculum with paper materials takes time and can lean in the direction of one learning style over another.

While teachers know they must adjust their teaching to match the motivations of their students,
they worry that students will lose the important aspects of their education like reading books or practicing their handwriting.

 


A paperless classroom addresses every one of these issues.

Teachers can access learning materials that fit the needs of their students

Note-taking apps allow students to hand write their thoughts, assignments, and figures, as they usually would, but they have the added benefit of being able to save these notes in a file that reduces paper mess and is easily searchable. (For more information about the importance of handwriting in the classroom and the available resources, check out my eBook, Paperless Note-Taking Like A Pro.)

Besides allowing for handwriting, apps, programs, and websites give teachers access to thousands of books, videos, lesson plans, virtual museum tours, and more. These resources help teachers provide a varied approach to learning a topic that can reach and impact more of their students.
A bonus for teachers: so many of these supplemental resources are free.

A paperless curriculum saves time

Refining a curriculum over the summer months by assembling books, resources, guides, slides, and videos, then spending hours making copies, can be a thing of the past. Building a paperless curriculum can be as simple as doing online research for resources and clicking a button, reducing hours of work down to minutes.

Because the curriculum can be saved in the cloud, teachers can easily access it, add to it, subtract from it, and even quickly access handouts.


Paperless systems save time in the classroom

Having lesson plans in the cloud makes accessing them easier. Students can see their assignments organized by due date, and access them from any device. This cuts back on lost papers, making copies, printing, stapling, and filing.

In a paperless classroom students can hand in their assignments over the internet. The teacher has the assignment the instant the student hands it in. Grading can be done without lugging around stacks of paper. Feedback on graded work is instant. And parents can access the full curriculum at home.

Paperless classrooms can cut costs for teachers

While an initial investment in iPads or computers can be costly for the district, the ongoing expenses for a paperless classroom are less costly and less wasteful. This reduction in daily expense and waste, and the ability to use the purchased hardware for years, can help districts reallocate their funds for the hardware purchase.

eBooks are generally less expensive than paper books. Textbooks are frequently updated and need to be repurchased. eBooks can be instantly updated.

The high cost of paper, ink, and printer maintenance has been previously established in the section above. With a paperless system, students can access all documents on their devices, only printing out essential materials.

Supplies like paper and pens can be reduced by using handwriting apps with an iPad and Apple Pencil.
Many supplemental resources are free to the public, and even more resources are created specifically for educators and students.

 

Resources to help create a paperless classroom

Paperless tech solutions should be selected to solve actual problems in the classroom, not add more confusion.

The need for efficient education resources has not gone unnoticed by the tech community.

There are hundreds of useful apps, programs, and systems that teachers can use to bring their classrooms one step closer to being paperless. (You can get an overview of the different note-taking apps I’ve reviewed here.

Besides individual apps and word processing programs, a teacher needs a central hub to keep all assignments, test, and communication with students in one organized place. These hubs are referred to as a Learning management System, or LMS.

Several companies provide these virtual classroom hubs. Here a few.


Google Classroom

Google Classroom is free for schools. Teachers can set up a classroom to manage assignments and communicate with students and parents in one convenient place.

Since the classroom can be accessed from the web, students can do their work anytime on any device. It has the standard Google security features and is compatible with G Suite for Education. (Go to Google Classroom)

Apple’s Schoolwork App and Classroom App

The Schoolwork app is an LMS where teachers can post assignments, keep an eye on student progress, and collaborate with students in real time.

The Classroom app makes it easy for teachers to guide how students use devices and apps in the classroom. This app puts the teacher in charge of every iPad in the classroom so they can keep their students on track. (Go to Apple Schoolwork)

 

SaaS options like Canvas

SaaS stands for Software as a service and is a software licensing and delivery model. The software can be licensed via subscription and is centrally hosted.

Canvas is an Learning Management System (LMS) for school work that organizes assignments and tests by subject. It makes it easy to distribute and collect assignments and keep an eye on student progress.

Students can access assignments, hand in assignments and communicate with teachers from any device by logging into their canvas account.

Outside apps like G Suite can be used with Canvas to make completing assignments quick and easy.

This app is used by K-12 schools and Universities. https://www.canvaslms.com/

 


In Conclusion:

The use of paperless technology is growing in our everyday lives. This is a reality that teachers and students face.

The growing use of paperless technology will become an even bigger influence in more and more areas of our lives.

As this influence grows, students of today will need to prepare for the future, which will surely include using this tech on a daily basis in their home lives and careers.

The use of paperless technology is growing in our everyday lives. This is a reality that teachers and students face.

The growing use of paperless technology will become an even bigger influence in more and more areas of our lives.

As this influence grows, students of today will need to prepare for the future, which will surely include using this tech on a daily basis in their home lives and careers.

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