Paperless School

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Diagram courtesy

Think of how much paper is used by schools. Even with the technological glory of computers, an average school uses an enormous amount of paper. Paper is everywhere; students read from books made of paper, they print assignments on paper; and they get worksheets and handouts on paper. Paper is essential to the daily function of a school, or so it seems.

Paper became popular as a medium for storing information only because computer databases had not yet been invented, for why would anyone ever choose an analog, non-searchable, unstable means of storage over a permanent, interactive, and digital one? Paper has greatly overstayed its welcome in the classroom and is due to be completely replaced.

In modern schools, educators use a variety of technologies to teach students material. Although Smart Boards animate board content and cameras capture the world, the personal computer drives the success of students. Computers allow access to the Internet, a rich, green pasture of educational resources and information in and of itself. In the humanities, computers make essay writing and literary analysis more accessible to those who have writing and language disabilities. In math and science, computers can be used to collect and analyze data, as well as run numerical simulations. Computers are patching the flaws of our education system, making, what ten years ago might have been a hallucination, reality.

If computers are such a boon to education, then why haven’t they replaced its biggest flaw: paper? The unsatisfying answer has mainly to do with money. Computers aren’t cheap, and good ones are even more expensive. In order for a paperless school to work, every child and every instructor has to have access to reliable, fast, and plentiful computing resources. Unfortunately, it is delusional to expect each student to have one portable computer due to financial considerations. One solution to this cost problem is the tablet. Tablets can easily replace computers and textbooks. Tablets are easy to use and require very little setup. A school where each child and instructor has access to a tablet and a communal computing center could function without paper.

Computers have replaced most analog forms of media. They have modernized data transfer and fundamentally changed how our society communicates and interacts. The development of personal computers is the biggest technological advance in our history, enabling function and format beyond anything even remotely imaginable 50 years ago. There is no reason that they cannot imbue our education system with efficiency, improvement, and accessibility, just as they have done with every other aspect of our lives.


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