Road to a paperless classroom

I wrote my last post on the ways in which the faculty at my school has gone paperless, and I’m left with the striking question of what is keeping us from going paperless with students?  I go about my work day with a laptop.  Most of the adults I know go about their work day with a computer and could not live without one.

I have heard of 1:1 classrooms, where students each have a laptop that they take to and from school.  I did some research and it seems that some schools doing this have required families to buy a particular type of laptop for their child for school.  I can imagine that many students at my school could do this, but a significant minority of students could not and may not have internet access at home either.  I also read that there is a notable cost benefit to going paperless.  I remember my principal talking to us about how many copies were made last year, how much money was spent on it, and the number sounded ridiculous.  How much more expensive would laptops for students be?  I also wonder if we could get some large companies that provide internet services to sponsor certain families with free internet access, as part of their community contributions.

My mind’s been trying to imagine what a paperless classroom would look like and how it would run.  I found a great post on the blog,, called The Changes, that explains some of the major ways the laptops have changed practice and learning in the classroom.  One example that struck me was the use of “chatting” in the classroom.  This teacher had students screening a documentary on Darfur, while discussing in real time in a chat room without stopping the film.  I’ve been on many Elluminate sessions where the chat box has been as productive and engaging as the spoken dialogue.

I also found this post, 5 Tips for Classroom Management Within 1:1 Environments, which more than anything, allowed me to imagine what it would really be like, warts and all, in a 1:1 classroom. Fascinating.

I’ve often given students the assignment to write about what school would be like if every student had a Kindle.  It always seemed like an unrealistic dream, though.  But after seeing so many teachers share how they are doing it successfully now (see Teach Paperless), I’m certain that laptops or ipads or Kindles are what the future holds for schools.  We just have to get there!


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