I need to admit up front that I tend to be instinct and intuition-driven rather than data-driven. And although I trust my instincts implicitly (and they rarely steer me wrong), I am frequently reminded that data can be just as valuable. And sometimes more so.
A recent mind-blower of this type occurred when my colleague, Ellie Gilbert, and I were preparing last weekend for our presentation at the IntegratED conference in Portland, Oregon. Both of us have converted to paperless classrooms over the past two years, thanks to our school's 1:1 iPad program. We both immediately agreed that a paperless environment not only reduced our paper use, but also gave us back more instructional time and classroom space. But how much paper have we saved? How much instructional time? How much space?
So we started crunching the numbers, using estimates that are definitely on the lower end of normal. And we were blown away by the results.
NOTE--all of the following figures are per class per quarter.
8.5 hours of instructional time saved due to decreased paper management (collecting and returning assignments, organizing/filing assignments, handing out photocopies, students finding lost papers, etc.)
1,800 photocopies saved due to going digital on almost all handouts and materials.
21 feet of shelf space free because we don't have student binders, teacher binders, or assignment collection baskets.
21 cubic feet of room space free because we don't need filing cabinets anymore.
Yep. Just let those numbers sink in. But even they do not tell the whole story. A teacher's role is a never-ending balance of taking care of students, planning lessons, troubleshooting, and grading, among so many other things.
Just imagine how much time you spend doing the following. What amazing work could you do with your students if you could get even some of this time back?
--organizing assignments by name and checking whether students did not turn them in (or turned them in late)
--looking for "lost" (correction--never actually turned in) assignments
--filing handouts and other paperwork into teacher binders or filing cabinets
--standing at the photocopy machine
--going back to stand at the photocopy machine when you discover an error in the handout you just copied
--searching through books, texts, magazines, newspapers, etc., for that great resource you can use in class.
--making photocopies of that new resource, only to have to destroy them at the end of the unit due to copyright issues
--grading objective tests and quizzes by hand
--grading multiple revisions of papers by hand
--meeting with students who missed school to tell them what they missed
--troubleshooting the next day when students didn't understand an assignment once they got home
And on, and on, and on.
So here's my challenge to you teachers out there. Find a way to make something paperless in your practice. And then comment back with what incredible, cool, amazing things you were able to do instead.