Monday, March 21, 2011

Tools to Go Paperless

By David Andrade, cross posted at 

I'm working on going paperless in my classroom. I'm almost 100% paperless myself, but have many students who don't have computer access so need to print things for them.

Here are the tools that I feel are essential to be paperless at school and at home:

1. Scanner - preferably one with an auto feeder. This is how I take paper items and make them electronic. I save them as PDF files so that they are easy to view. I'll upload some to Evernote (which can search the text) and attach it to notes in Evernote as needed. 

2. Evernote - free, multi-platform system for taking notes, clipping webpages, and much more. You can organize notes, upload photos (Evernote can search text in photos too), attach files and more. It is truly a one-stop, does-it-all, system that is indispensable. 

3. Google Docs - do all of your office work - documents, spreadsheets, and presentations - online. Collaborate and share with others without needing to print out files. Can also upload other files to keep them there. 

4. Google Calendar - keep yourself organized and on schedule. Create group calendars or share calendars. No need to print them anymore. It can even email or text you reminders for upcoming events or tasks. 

5. Google Tasks - tasks is a simple task list that comes with Gmail. Use it to make sure you don't forget to do things. You can also schedule due dates and have it link to Google Calendar. 

6. Electronic Gradebook - if your school system isn't already using an electronic grade book, you can use your own for free. Engrade is a free, online grade book that is easy to use, fully functional, and allows students and parents to view their grades. 

7. PDF tools - use these tools to create, modify, and mark up PDF documents. Make electronic versions instead of printing to paper. 

8. Student online services - Trackclass, Shoshiku, and Dweeber and - students use these free services (along with Evernote and Google apps) to take notes, organize their schedule and assignments, and much more. 

9. Smartphone with camera - access all of the services mentioned here. Do work anytime. Stay organized by accessing your calendar, task list, notes, and more. And use the camera to capture information and notes. This becomes your pocket organizer. 

10. Websites and Blogs - use websites and blogs to post information, files, and other items to communicate with faculty, parents and students. 

11. Digital Textbooks and sites - use digital textbooks and reference sites instead of paper textbooks. Accessible anywhere and free. Digital Textbooks

12. Smartpones, Tablets, Computers, Netbooks - use these in class instead of paper notebooks and textbooks to access information, take notes, and create assignments. You can even use an inexpensive digital notepad, like Boogie Board, to take quick notes without using paper. 

13. Digital assignments instead of paper - have students use Google Docs, blogs, websites, etc. to create digital assignments instead of paper ones. Have them create new things, like Glogs, videos, and presentations instead of the typical paper assignments. 

14. Electronic bulletin boards and digital displays (digital photo frames)- use these instead of paper bulletin boards to display messages and notices. 

Going paperless is not only good for the environment (the increased use of electricity is still less than the power, resources, and byproducts of paper production) but can also save schools money and make people and students more efficient.

All of the software/services I mentioned are free and available online through any web browser and available from smartphones. 

What do you use to go paperless?


  1. Great resources! Thanks!

    Net Vibes is great way to keep blogs and any other websites or social media you use in one location. If your students have their own blogs or make student products on sites like Glogster, Net Vibes is an excellent way to keep them organized for easy access.

    Net Vibes is an aggregator site that pulls in information from all over the web. It pulls in information from all of you favorite sites and puts them into a single dashboard. There are also some nice widgets on the site. Net Vibes is a great site for teachers, but it would also be a good place for students to pull together all of their work products from the web.

    Live Binders is another one of my favorites. It's exactly what it sounds like. A binder that pulls in live links. If you want your students to access certain sites for a lesson, you can put them all into one Live Binder. Once you insert links into the binder, the sites are live and can be navigated from within the binder. You can also use Live Binders as a way to organize student work or bookmark sites you use for teaching. You can upload files, images and videos into Live Binders.

    Hope you find these helpful!


  2. I'm totally in love with Dropbox! A tool with wich you can sync files across all computers (and smartphones) you use, with online backup and the possibility to share an entire folder (ideal for putting all our family pictures together ;-) everybody copies their photos into the shared folder).

    Would be a nice addition to your great list!

  3. Weis,

    Thanks for mentioning Dropbox! I forgot to mention cloud file sync and storage systems in my post. They are very important.

    Dropbox,, Sugarsync, Zumodrive, etc.

    Here's some more on cloud file sync and backup systems:

    Thanks for reminding me!

  4. I work for Manilla and think we should be on this list!

  5. Try as well. I've been very happy with it so far. It's an excellent tool that allows you to upload, mark up, and embed PDF's to a blog or website.


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