A colleague and I were talking yesterday about paperless classrooms. It seems as though there is a movement to abandon our addiction to paper. Many teachers are starting to utilize technology to support teaching and learning where paper would traditionally be used. The term “paperless classroom” refers to the management of instruction using digital tools (Fur, 2003). There are many digital tools that can help a teacher reduce the amount of paper being used in the classroom, both by students and teachers. In my search for more information, I have realized that there are 4 major benefits to having a paperless classroom:
1. Time Saver
As an educator, it can often feel like there is never enough time to get things done. Reducing the dependence on paper could alleviate this feeling (Smith & Evans, 2011). Rather than walking to the photocopier to make class sets of handouts or assignments, a quick upload to googledocs could take seconds instead. This would allow more time for teachers to plan together or support students.
2. Money Saver
Reams of paper are expensive! Many classroom budgets have been consumed by these white sheets (Smith & Evans, 2011). This money could be spent in better ways to support programming and instruction. Let’s spend money wisely so that students get the most bang for their buck. Being able to post unlimited online resources, without worrying about one’s photocopy budget, can also mean that students have access to more options and information that would otherwise be eliminated due to lack of money.
Using digital texts allows students to get information from anywhere and they do not have to carry around heavy books. By having easy access, students will be able to use their time more efficiently to complete their work and not have to go searching for what they need. This also means that students can access content in a variety of ways, which can lead to increased student success. If a student needs a text read to them, a software program like Kurzweil can take the digital text or handout and read it. If a student needs a larger font, it is easily adjusted on the computer. If a student needs speech-to-text to complete assignments or online worksheets, many technology options exist to easily provide this option.
Teachers also benefit from easy access by going paperless. For example, they are able to access the student’s work and provide feedback right in the document. This leaves a digital feedback loop that can continue for the duration of the class/year/semester. The student can track their strengths and next steps, and the teacher can track the assessments for reporting purposes. This also allows everyone to work from various locations, which means not forgetting your homework at school!
4. Helps Trees
Reducing or eliminating the reliance on paper helps the environment. Less paper means trees do not need to be cut down and this makes mother nature happy. One teacher estimated that he saved over 40 000 sheets of paper (approximately 4 trees worth) in one school year by teaching without paper (Scherer, 2014). This is a quick and easy thing to do and it has an impact on reducing environmental footprint.
In today’s 21st century classrooms, the use of paper is becoming less common. Teachers and students are using digital tools to communicate and complete tasks. Doing so has many benefits that cannot be ignored.
Do you dare?
Take the paperless challenge! Start small – maybe try a few days to see how it goes and how students can benefit. You may be surprised by how easy, cost-efficient, and a time-saving solution it can be – not to mention you could save a tree.
Furr, G. C. (2003). From” paperless classroom” to” deep reading”: five stages in internet pedagogy. The Technology Source. Retrieved from
Scherer, M. (2014). The Paperless Classroom is Coming. Time, 184(15), 36-38.
Smith, V., & Evans, E. (2011, February). Should schools go paperless? Learning & Leading with Technology, 38(5), 6+.