IMG_0946Twenty-first century students are tech-savvy, but their school work often requires them to carry around heavy textbooks and complete assignments on paper. Moreover, on occasion, teenagers in particular may not be the best at keeping track of the location of their books and papers! This section explains how to eliminate the need for students to carry around and keep track of the physical location of course materials, books, and documents.
However, going ‘paperless’ is about much more than merely viewing documents on a screen to alleviate the burden of carrying books: there are a wealth of tools to enhance the learning experience. Paperless text:

  • Is searchable;
  • Is ‘shareable’ (by email; through a social network);
  • Is ‘live’ – since it is not printed, it can be updated at any time;
  • Is safe from being lost (if it is saved in the cloud);
  • Can be archived (versions of a document can be restored);
  • Can be projected onto a screen for everyone to see.

This list only describes the benefits of the non-physical-ness of paperless documents, but there are of course many more interactive features. Paperless text:

  • Can be media-rich: interactive text, pictures, videos, maps, mouseover pop-up boxes, and hyperlinks all can be embedded into a page of text;
  • Can be annotated: notes and marks are collected in a single location for easy access later and can be shared with others;
  • Can allow a reader to see the annotations of other readers.

Besides these benefits of going paperless, many educators believe that it is our responsibility to prepare students for an increasingly technology- and media-rich world. In the article The 33 Digital Skills Every 21st Century Teacher Should Have, the website educatorstechnology.com identifies the skills teachers should have so that the twenty-first century educational needs of students are adequately addressed. According to the article, today’s students should be able to:
Share resources using social bookmarking, wikis, blogs, webpages, and file sharing tools;
Use collaborative applications for writing and editing text;

  • Create presentations and infographics;
  • Compile a digital portfolio;
  • Use note-taking applications to organize and share notes;
  • Conduct effective search queries and evaluate the quality of content and sources;
  • Understand plagiarism and copyright issues and properly cite resources in their work.

Subsequent sections on this website will provide tools and resources for each of these skills.
Creative Commons License

Beyond the Paperless Classroom by David Doherty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.