Friday, February 6, 2015

Friday Freebie: What I'm Reading in Ten Minutes or Less: Is Paperless the Way to Go?

Has your child's school gone paperless? Our school district is moving in that direction. On the surface, that sounds great -- less clutter, less mess, more trees. Toward that end, recent report cards were sent out electronically, and at the beginning of the school year, students at the middle school and high school were given Chromebooks, with many students and adults singing the praises of this new link between home and school, designed to make things easier and more efficient.

I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but I have to wonder. Is this a step in the right direction? While I'm in favor of saving natural resources whenever possible, I'm not convinced that increased use of electronic devices is the one-size-fits-all benefit it's meant to be.
As it turns out, I'm not alone in wondering about this. Last year, The Washington Post ran a piece about a technology instructor's seemingly contradictory decision to ban technology in his classroom. This article appeared not long after a study that indicated that taking notes on electronic devices might not be a giant step for student kind -- at least not a step in the right direction -- received widespread attention in the press.

Don't get me wrong -- I love technology. In fact, I suspect that I spend way too much time in front of a screen myself. But there are times when only a paper and pencil will do.

What do you think? Should paperless really be our goal? Or is there still a benefit to doing some things the old-fashioned way?


  1. I did a Tech Talk a year or so ago about my daughter' struggles with a school gone paperless. Her study style kicks it old school!

  2. My daughter actually asked her principal if she had to take a Chromebook. He was shocked. I assigned the SA article & a response paper on it to my PSY100 students, one of whom is a HS junior. She wrote a very thoughtful response questioning her school's move toward paperless & decided to go old school with note taking in my class. I'm not anti-tech -- just pro-informed decision.

  3. I'd advise her to TAKE the Chromebook, if she won't be forced to go all-in and use it for everything. She might find that there are some things that work well for her on that platform, and others where she needs a paper and pencil. It's always good to try out the tools and see what works best :) I think school administrators, once they commit to using a technology, just can't imagine that not all students will (1) benefit from it, (2) be comfortable using it, and (3) jump right into a new way of working.

  4. Oh, she took it. And she uses it as required. My concern (and hers) was that she'd have to take notes on it and NOTHING I've read supports the idea that taking notes electronically is superior to taking them in longhand. You're right, though, Barb -- (1), (2) & (3). And her principal is a great guy -- but he was stunned.