I think I have been thinking about the paperless classroom all wrong. In my head, I envisioned a class where everything was done on the computer, no pencil and notebook in sight. And though I felt like this was the line I had to tow, as a promoter of technology in the classroom and someone who is acutely aware of the amount of paper waste that happens in my library, I never felt very comfortable with the idea.
I guess because for something to enter my brain, I need to take the time to write it down. Then I need to make arrows that lead to following ideas. Then I have to circle things and make more arrows and then write notes in the margin.
My day to day management also requires paper. Every week I begin with writing a list on graph paper. I keep it by my computer and when I get distracted I take my eyes away from the screen and look at my list. Just the fact of writing it down by hand means that I will remember I have to do it – the looking at the list is only secondary.
The results of this study by the Association for Psychological Science, which shows that writing notes by hand is better for long-term comprehension, as well as the article below about the benefits of doodling, demonstrates that I am not the only one who finds taking notes beneficial.
Then it occurred to me that I was getting the wrong idea – the paperless classroom does not mean no paper. It doesn’t mean that students should not take notes in whatever way they feel is more advantageous to them.
I have to take off my literal hat and think of it more as a workflow idea. That is, the teacher gives the assignment electronically (via email, Showbie, dropbox, google drive). The student completes their assignment, sending the finished project via the chosen method. The student is not burdened with a whole bunch of loose papers, and the teacher can choose an efficient, electronic way of receiving their submissions. Simple. Elegant. Still allows for the diversity of styles and preferences.
Sometimes I am slow on the uptake…
Check out the article about the benefits of doodling below!