Songhai Concepts

Media Literacy/Digital Archiving Instructor

Sunday, December 14, 2008

iPaper and Scribd: Toward a Paperless Classroom

When I first started blogging in 2005 I made a pledge to myself and to my students that our class would operate as a 100 percent paperless classroom. 2008 marks my fourth consecutive year of operating a totally paperless classroom. There are a number of reasons why I don't use paper: paper is too expensive, most students do not value paper, papers are messy, papers are hard to keep up with, students lose papers, teachers lose papers, papers get dirty, papers rip, papers drop and fall out of order and so on and so on and so on... Those are just a few of the reasons why I don't use paper.

Most of my colleagues use paper - paper memos, paper projects, paper handouts, paper tests, paper worksheets, paper quizzes, paper essays. I know this because I man the primary computer lab at my school and daily, a dozen or more students come to the lab needing to print essays, reports, 20 page web sites, college applications and the obligatory poster board pictures. I don't have a printer in my classroom, but there is a printer down the hall where I can send print jobs for students who must have paper.

I always ask those students who are paper dependent if their instructors will accept an Email submission in lieu of a printed paper. A handful of my colleagues are open to receiving assignments via Email, but the majority of the students at my school, despite their expertise using MySpace and Face Book, do not have Email accounts and/or do not know how to send an Email with an attachment.

In all fairness, it's easy for me to talk about the benefits of going paperless - I have twenty computers in my classroom. My colleagues have only one. I've heard talk that more computers are coming, but until then, what's a teacher to do?

One solution might be to start using Scribd. Scribd is another one of those free and amazing Web 2.0 tools that make document sharing as easy as pointing and clicking.
Users can explore thousands of documents on the Scribd web site and submit and share their original work in a matter of minutes.

Below is an example of Bloom's Digital Taxonomy. The iPaper was authored by Andrew Churches and added to Scribd by Darren Kuropatwa.

Blooms Digital Taxonomy v2.12

Smart and practical web tools like Scribd make the idea of a paperless classroom a very plausible endeavor. Users can upload a variety of document files that they create as well as read the thousands of beautifully created documents that others have submitted to Scribd.

If students, teachers and administrators are looking for an alternative to paper, then Scribd is, without a doubt one of the best ways to create professional looking documents and deliver those documents to a global audience with ease.

H Songhai

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