Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ten Reasons to Have a Paperless Classroom

By Steve Katz

10. Work doesn’t get “lost” in the bottom of a backpack.

9. Save space (no file cabinets).

8. Nobody ever forgets their pencil.

7. Collaboration is easy from anywhere.

6. No carrying notebooks (only netbooks).

5. Students are building digital portfolios.

4. No more “no-name” assignments.

3. You never have to wait in line for the copier.

2. Save paper, save the Earth.

1. The dog can’t eat your homework.

You can go paperless in your classroom, or at least reduce the use of paper while improving your lessons. Begin planning for a paperless Earth Day, Friday, April 22, 2011. Need some ideas about alternatives to paper? Feel free to add more.


  1. It's also easier to grade work.

    Can keep in touch with kids at all times.

    Can create a community for even the most shy kid to participate.

    Students can participate even when absent.

    Don't have to rely on subs to give out work, can assign it online!

  2. Fun tips, Steve. I'm glad you said something about reducing use as well. I've been trying to cut back for 1.5 years, but I think it is near impossible to go completely paperless without a 1: 1 environment.

    - @newfirewithin

  3. Ha ha ha!! This is so good that my first thought was to print this and post it in the room!!! I guess I will have to email this to my students now!!
    Ha ha ha!

  4. lol; Mel I was thinking the same thing.

  5. Love your tips - I know my own children could have used this especially in eliminating excuses #10, #8, and #4. Since there is so much teaching about saving the Earth, it only makes sense to live it and teach by example.

  6. Great list! And, if students use cloud backup and syncing, then they will have access to their work even if their device is lost, broken, or left at home.

  7. I've been requiring (college) students to turn in work electronically for years. Managing a filing system on computers is just as difficult as managing a filing cabinet. If things aren't filed immediately in the right place they can be lost for years. Students can accidentally delete files or portions of files irretrievably (which is worse than the lost-in-the-backpack or dog-ate-the-homework excuse).

    Students forget to save to a shared server and so lose their work.

    Going paperless does not solve any of the executive function problems—it just changes them so that the conventional solutions taught to kids don't work and they need to learn new ones.

    Incidentally, I've found that for grading writing and computer programs, I do need to have paper copies. I tried a couple of times marking up electronic copies, but it was far too slow and inefficient. I require electronic submission of programs so that I can test them, but for providing detailed feedback, I still need paper.

    Perhaps if you don't do detailed feedback on homework, then electronic markup is not such a barrier.

  8. @gasstationwithoutpumps

    Don't have your students turn in work. Rather, have them create the work on the cloud. (ie don't have them submit a word doc to you or to a dropbox, rather have them create the doc on Google Docs and just add you as an editor). Google Docs are searchable -- which eliminates 95% of "losing things" problems.

    As for editing, if you are added as an editor to a Doc, it's as easy as marking up any word doc using editing features/commenting etc.

    Easy fix.


  9. I am planning a Paperless Classroom workshop on April 15. Now I am psyched to tie it into Earth Day. I welcome any ideas.

  10. google docs = complete cloud computing but if you need more admin/control ebackpack does what dropbox is made for but just for teachers

  11. I completely agree with this IF you're students have access to technology. If they don't, this is impossible. If you're not 1:1, students don't have the flexibility to complete their work on the bus, in the car, at the basketball game, etc.

  12. What do you do if you have students who do not have computer/internet access? I would say that about 85% of my students do, but 15% don't. I would love to go paperless, but I don't think I can ever go completely without. Thoughts?

  13. @Jessica

    85% is a pretty great start. Prepare collaborative work and let kids share the tech you do have. If possible, open up your classroom to cellphone/SMS/smartphone use as well.

    And remember 100% paperlessness is only as important as the connections your students are able to make. So focus on bringing the network to them and on bringing them to the network. Let their voices and inquiries go beyond the classroom walls.


  14. Since starting to use online materials for teaching several years ago, my quest has been to find an efficient way to mark students' writing without having physical print-outs to work with. Does anyone know of a system (either a program or a set of macros or some other arrangement) that would allow me to mark up students' assignments and papers without printing them out?

    I'm a college instructor, and my students are writing two- to four-page assignments regularly, so I need a way to correct and comment on a lot of text, and with a certain degree of sophistication.

    Thanks -

  15. Thanks to sharing nice information through your blog I think, it would help to complete study from
    distance learning


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