For sometime I had been hearing about paperless classrooms and had considered it but never knew if it would work. After speaking to so many people at last years Apple Distinguished Educators institute who had paperless classrooms I decided to give it a go.
So firstly the reasons why I wanted to do this.
1. Having to go into work an average of one hour early each day and hope that the printer and/or photocopier were working.
2. Having to constantly apologise to my class if I hadn’t have notes printed for various reasons but most often because the printer and/or photocopier weren’t working.
3. Seeing the amount of paper used.
4. Seeing notes left behind after class by people who clearly weren’t bothered if they had them or not.
5. Being the go-to person in the case of broken USB’s and being expected to recover work.
I did think it would be a challenge and other staff members looked at me in disbelief when I mentioned it and said it would never work but I was willing to give it a try and a new term was starting with new students who didn’t know better. Before starting I made two rules.
1. NO USB’s in class.
2. All notes will be uploaded to the cloud account and may be downloaded onto computers before class.
This is how it worked.
When I started a new class I set them all up with a copy account. Why copy? Well copy.com offers the largest amount of free storage I could find at the time (I have since learnt box.com is pretty good too) and since I have students creating larger files in programs like Final Cut Pro X this seemed a better solution than dropbox.
All notes were added into the copy account and each student was invited into it.
Students set up their computers to automatically save all their documents to copy and it was as easy as that. Any completed work could also be shared with me.
I will admit the first class were reluctant to try and I was close to giving in and letting them use USB’s but in the end it worked out. I now have 10 different groups all using copy.com. It means no more panic for me in the mornings if I am faced with a situation like this. Which believe me was not a rare occurrence!
With students now using cloud storage I have also avoided having to deal with broken USB’s which again is a massive weight lifted.
Some subjects do have worksheets which in the past I would have printed but now I use socrative.com to do them all online. The results are sent through in an excel spreadsheet which I can print if I choose. This means I have cut down from an average of 100+ pages per student to the length of the spreadsheet which is about 10 at most.
When it comes to the end of the year and assignment submissions they are all now organised and ready to go all I need to do is give the link and password to the external examiner and all the work is organised in folders for each student. Again this has cut out on the need to write the work to multiple CD’s which is a task I hated in previous years.
All in all it has worked out pretty well. The only paperwork printed is the mandatory paperwork required by FETAC and I have saved lots of trees and money in the process.
Taking into account the costs involved in printing at home which was often required and the cost of USB’s I have saved enough to reinvest that money into my classroom and my class have benefitted from different videos packages I have managed to purchase with that money. Each student now has a WordPress domain and hosting, Animoto Education Account, GoAnimate 4 Schools account and Powtoon account whereas in the past we had to go with free accounts and I think that in the end they benefit a lot more from those than from a few printed handouts. Not to mind the fact that I get a bit extra sleep in the morning and have far less paper cuts!
Consider giving it a go it is not as impossible as you think!