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A Quick Guide for the Paperless Classroom

A Quick Guide for the Paperless Classroom

By Bethany Petty

reading too much? Whooos ReadingTechnology has dramatically changed the face of classrooms today. Teachers and students have access to a wealth of information and potential for collaboration that previous classrooms could have never dreamed.

Leveraging technology to create a paperless classroom can enhance the learning experience of our students and can help teachers streamline and simplify their workload.

Use this short, but helpful guide to create your first paperless classroom.

More: 3 Simple Ways to Manage Teacher Workload

Get an LMS or Google Classroom

In order to create a paperless learning environment, you need to have a learning management system or Google Classroom account in place.

A Good LMS

One of the most important aspects of the paperless classroom is a Learning Management System (LMS). A great LMS will allow teachers to create, assign, and grade assignments and assessments online. With this in place, you can say goodbye to grading seemingly endless stacks of documents!

LMS’s allow teachers to grade anywhere anytime, providing students with valuable feedback even outside the four walls of the classroom. This also allows you to prioritize and grade when a moment becomes available.

My LMS of choice is Schoology. Schoology provides an “enterprise” or a “basic” license for its customers, and is by far the cleanest and most user-friendly LMS I’ve seen.

Schoology works perfectly in my 1:1 Chromebook classroom, but is also available on iOS devices. The iOS option is fantastic for my students, many of whom have personal iOS devices. This means, they can access our class on the go.

While I love the ability to create and assign assessments via Schoology (this makes grading a cinch!), my favorite way to use this LMS is to monitor discussion board activity and create assignments to encourage students to use it.

My students frequently interact with their classmates via online discussion boards, similar to an online or blended learning environment that many practicing teachers encountered in their undergraduate or graduate courses.

“My students frequently interact with their classmates via online discussion boards, similar to an online or blended learning environment that many practicing teachers encountered in their undergraduate or graduate courses.”

Students are given a piece of text, website, YouTube video or other source and asked a broad, thought-provoking question, which they must answer in paragraph form, complete with coherent sentences, proper grammar, punctuation, etc.

This activity has been made possible by technology in the classroom, and by an awesome Learning Management System. Could you create and share a Google Doc with your students and have them collaborate through that medium? Sure. Can you create discussion boards within Google Classroom? Yup.

However, I’ve found creating, organizing, and assigning discussion boards and other online activities (that don’t require copies to be made of a Google Doc) is much easier with an LMS. This is critical for a paperless classroom—it’s supposed to streamline your classroom processes, not create more work for you.

More: 10 Benefits of Teaching in a Blended Classroom

Google Classroom

Early in the 2014-2015 school year, Google unveiled a management system for classroom use: Google Classroom. The advent of this platform was cause for rejoicing among the educational community. No one really knew exactly what to expect, but come on, it’s Google. It had to be great, right?

Now we know that Classroom is a wonderful solution for the 1:1 classroom. It serves as a document management system; making assigning, sharing and collecting files through Google Drive an absolute breeze. Recent additions to Google Classroom make it even better for your paperless classroom. Some of these new features allow you to:

  • Assign Google Forms and immediately view student responses
  • Share websites directly to student devices via “Share to Classroom” extension—this is an invaluable new feature.
  • Add a co-teacher to a class, allowing additional teachers to monitor student progress.
  • Move posts to the top of the stream to capture student attention.
  • Choose to include a due date on assignments. This is important because sometimes students need their own copy of a document, and that document doesn’t always need a due date.
  • Create a limited discussion environment

Google is constantly making updates to Classroom, creating a learning space that makes running your paperless classroom simple and organized. Check my edtech blog, usingeducationaltechnology.com, for updates and reviews of the new features added to Classroom.

If your school uses Google for Education, then Google Classroom comes to you free of charge, and is a perfect fit for your needs.

More: 10 Tech Tools for Your Classroom

Create a Strategy

Going “paperless” is a huge leap for teachers and should not be tackled without a great plan for implementation. Creating a paperless classroom should involve more than simply assigning the same old assignments online.

Technology has provided educators with an amazing opportunity to reflect upon the work we assign our students. For example: do worksheets actually help our students? With technology, teachers can create and assign meaningful and authentic activities that better engage students and enhance learning, even more so than a simple worksheet.

To create your strategy, spend time reflecting about your teaching practices and strategies. How can you take what you already do, and improve it with technology. Then use your paperless classroom tools, such as your LMS or Google Classroom account, to assign and manage those awesome new assignments.

Don’t forget to consider what other edtech tools would help you make your paperless classroom more engaging and effective. A few tools that allow you to assign, grade and provide feedback to students online include:

The opportunity to “go paperless” is amazing and one that our predecessors simply did not have. Imagine all the ways you can leverage technology to transform the learning environment!

Tell us in the comments: What are your favorite tools or top tips for managing a paperless classroom?

WRforSchools
View Comments (6)

6 Comments

  1. Jono Landon

    November 18, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Going paperless is so important and one of the biggest roadblocks we hear of from schools is the growing number of digital tools being used. We see an average of 30 disparate tools per school that all require separate logins and manual database management. that’s hard enough for the staff to manage let alone for the parents. Often the result is going to the known and trusted fall back of paper paper paper. Centralizing platforms are the way to go!

    • Jessica Sanders

      November 18, 2015 at 10:41 am

      Ah, yes, I can definitely see how that would be not only challenging but frustrating! Do you know of any great platforms that centralize all of these apps?

      • Jono Landon

        November 18, 2015 at 11:09 am

        Well I happen to be the Founder and CEO of Hubbli which is an all in one school communication platform that is focused on helping school staff and faculty reduce administrative workload around communication and paper management. We have learned that one of the key elements missing in that endeavour is a centralized platform, so we created it.

        All of our features are baked inside of a private social network which is like having a private Facebook that is built for school information management. Digital forms like survey monkey, documents like google doc, etc etc. https://hubbli.com

  2. Pingback: How to Create a Tech-based Curriculum Using the SAMR Model

  3. Pingback: 5 MORE Ways to Use Google Forms in the Classroom

  4. Pingback: Here, we explore the benefits and challenges of a paperless classroom, and how educators can design a digital learning environment. | The JotForm Blog

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