October 25, 2012

Paperless Classrooms?

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kschreckengost @ 2:52 am

I was intrigued by an article I just read about the paperless classroom. The paperless classroom described in the article was part of an experiment at Columbia University in which eight students, enrolled in an undergraduate class, viewed and submitted all documentation (course syllabus, work due, etc.) electronically. The interesting twist to this paperless class was that it was not an online course. The students actually met twice a week for face-to-face lectures and discussions.

This article lead me to start thinking about how I would feel if I were to go paperless? I’ve come to the conclusion that it is probably a personal preference into how much paperwork a teacher wants to include in the classroom. The above class was a collegiate course in which students were more than capable of independently logging into their class and participating. It’s much easier for the upper level student to independently read tutorials and information on how to submit work electronically if it is new to them. Thus, I can see why the trial at Columbia was a success.

On the other hand, I am currently working with elementary aged children, who are by no means computer illiterate, but they definitely require a lot more guidance when it comes to using online sources. I can not see me converting all of my paperwork online. That doesn’t mean that I won’t consider a mix though. I think it’s acceptable to begin to blend the use of pen and paper and the computer to teach students how to take advantage of bringing “life” to their works.

In my previous blog post, I talked about the shift in education to include more student work online. I think it would be a great idea, at the elemenatary level, to have students use traditional methods of writing and revising on paper and then incorporating their final drafts online using media such as podcasts, screencasts, etc.

I feel that for me, a completely paperless class may take away from the role that I play as a teacher and model. At this level, I want my students to understand how written paperwork is to be completed properly. To me, they need to understand the basic foundations of writing before they move into typing. They need to know what to do when technologies are not available. I also feel that at this age, students are very kinesthetic learners and it may be a detriment to have them lose the”feeling” of writing.

I don’t deny the value that a paperless class my have for some, but for me, I try to actively engage my children in as many activities as possible to build a good foundation for learning. I’d be hesitant to go completely paperless at the elementary age.


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