Adapting to technology doesn’t necessarily mean inconveniencing oneself in the name of development. This is perhaps the biggest concern of educators all over the globe. The reluctance to adopt a paperless education method stems from multiple reasons; all of which might be justifiable. But the fact remains—technology was developed by humans to simplify tasks in their daily life. Therefore, paperless education is gaining popularity in the field of learning.
What is Paperless Education?
When one talks of paperless education, the direct ideas that pop in one’s mind are perhaps difficult to grade papers, a lack of practice of penmanship, and an overall reduction in the growth of aptitude. Old-school educators feel that if they let technology invade education like it has invaded other aspects of a human’s life, they’ll hamper learning. But is this fear valid? Let’s do what is done best in such daunting situations—create a Pros and Cons list!
Pros of Adapting Paperless Education
As an advocate of the healthy use of technology, paperless education is the revolution in education we urgently need to adapt. And the reasons for this urgency is listed below:
1. Going Paperless Means Easier Track of Learning
In every aspect of human life, we’ve let technology help us. Be it accounting, record keeping, data tracking, or any other tasks that were tedious as hell five decades ago. Nobody can deny the efficiency and accuracy it has granted us. Students deserve to learn through the same level of efficiency that the current era runs on.
Converting the system of learning, even gradually, to accommodate the paperless vision of education can mean that a great level of efficiency can be achieved. Just imagine the time, effort, and energy it is going to save if every essential teaching and learning resource, administration, execution, and feedback, come together through a systematic interface.
The quality of learning and education is dramatically going to improve, and the progress will be evident. Oh, one thing that perhaps is the biggest pro for teachers is that, with paperless education, no students can go on with the excuse that they forgot their homework back at home! (oops)
2. Efficiency in Cutting Costs and Reducing Staff Work Load
Bulks of copies of worksheets, assignments, heaps of books, references and sheets, and about any other resource that uses paper. Therefore, education requires money. These are regular in today’s learning system. But imagine reducing all that and storing it all in one single digital space. Calculate the amount of extra money and costs that would be cut down by making this simple transition for paperless education.
Teachers all over the globe have a singular common complaint. Too many students and too few teachers. The teachers have a tremendous workload and average pay. Now going paperless would significantly reduce the extra work that a teacher has to go through, like preparing copies, collecting assignments, etc. This undoubtedly would add to improved quality in learning, as the teachers would finally have time to focus on what’s important—imparting education.
3. Promoting A Sustainable Learning Environment (My Favorite Pro Ngl)
Just think back to all the stacks of paper you’ve used in the past month for your schoolwork. Now multiply that to the thousands of students in your school and even more in your city. The amount of paper being used, printouts lying forgotten, assignments reviewed and stacked away, is a growing point of concern. The way we are moving forward is if we don’t work out a more sustainable mode of learning and of living, humans aren’t going to have much to live on with.
Going paperless will not only help you reduce your carbon footprint and do your bit for the environment, but it will also encourage students. Students who are leading towards a future where resources have already been plundered, and the need for sustainability will be at an all-time high.
4. Changing the Teacher-Student Dynamics (But in A Good Way)
A typical traditional classroom setup has been pretty similar for centuries. A professor or teacher or educator is leading the class, with students as attentive (and not so attentive) subjects. This system is religiously being followed to date, with some minuscule changes to it.
But gradually, as individuals and generations have grown, its effectiveness is seemingly reducing. The reason? The current generation doesn’t seem to thrive under the thumb of authority; they need the freedom and space to be expressive. For that reason, the teaching styles and patterns of teachers are gradually evolving.
Through paperless learning, a teacher wouldn’t necessarily have to be at the centre of the class. They can delegate students and at times, learn alongside them, as well. It can be visible that letting technology take over is not always a bad thing, especially if it assists in a more progressive style of receiving education.
Cons of Going with Paperless Education
Everything that seems to have unbeatable pros do have a trail of cons that follow. How significant and difficult they are to work around, I’ll let you be the judge of it.
1. Affording the Conversion from Traditional to Paperless
In a lot of countries across the globe, classroom education has seen a significant improvement in terms of technology. The use of projectors, white screens, computers, and other electronic gadgets have been slowly yet gradually been introduced to the patterns of learning. But on the other hand, some do not have the funding necessary for going through such a major transformation. There are a vast majority of institutions in economically backward countries that have students who barely can afford books to study.
The polarization is extreme, I agree, but also necessary to consider. Unless extreme philanthropists are lurking around to sponsor millions of these kids with technology to go paperless, the paper would pretty much remain their medium to study. Sometimes, in our glory of privilege, we fail to acknowledge others who do not share similar opportunities as us. Therefore, to them, as titillating as paperless education sounds, it can’t be a possible reality.
2. Making Your Brain Lazy by Taking Too Much Help from Technology
Oh, if it isn’t the favourite argument by almost every boomer educationist out there—too much dependency on technology has made your brain lazy. They aren’t wrong on that aspect, are they? This is the same brain that used to memorize phone numbers a few times after dialling them. We were experts at roads and directions because Google Maps wasn’t an alternative in case we got lost. So now that we study ourselves, we cannot deny the fact that we indeed are turning into comfort-loving beings that dumps all the hard work on technology.
Now, in such times, the only solace was the training our brains get in the formative schooling years. Through vigorous learning and practising everything in real-time, at least in the developmental stage, students are learning to exercise their brains. With dependency on technology, we won’t have even that.
3. Constant Need of Active and Dedicated Tech Staff in Institutions
This one’s a no-brainer. If you need to smoothly work out day-to-day school interactions with paperless education, then your altercations with technology will be a lot. The resolution of most technical errors requires the help of some qualified IT professionals. This means hiring full-time staff dedicated to handling the technology in the school. At present, most schools that have ‘smart classes’ (a projector, computer, and a screen) might have someone on the payroll to ensure that the tech is up-to-date.
But when transforming into an entirely paperless system of education, dependency on this technology increases tenfold. This means that if for any reason the tech fails, it will hamper the learning for an entire day. To avoid that, technological reinforcements are necessary, and that means more investment. It ultimately looks like a vicious loop.
Do the pros outweigh the cons? Or does paperless education have too many cons to consider it as a viable option? I’ll let you be the judge of that. What I do know is that nothing is constant, especially the world around us. Education will keep progressing and the methods of learning will evolve. How we take up to that change and adapt to it is the real question. Education essentially needs to be relevant for it to be effective for the coming generations. But the process of imbibing that relevancy needs to be easy and accessible with a wide variety of communities, cultures, and people. And that is something that shall be the defining factor for the quest for paperless education.