Some of us in our school are looking to try going ‘paperless’. There are many reasons, and programs/apps to support this. (Did I mention the huge deficit in our district that means slashed budgets for supplies?) However, my high school, in a middle-class suburb of Vancouver, is not a 1:1 for devices, has limited wireless capability, no BYOD policy and doesn’t even have an LCD in all classrooms. And keep in mind that privacy concerns/laws in Canada mean that requiring the use of any cloud-based program based outside of Canada (Evernote, Google Docs, Edmodo, Prezi etc) requires signed parent permission.
I’ve always believed in asking, and not assuming, so recently surveyed students in language classes (mostly mine) about access to, and attitudes toward working only online. Their responses indicate that there is still an issue for access to, and varying degrees of comfort with, using computers in classes.– The majority of kids bring phones to school (54%) – but not everyone is able to bring a computer/tablet (28%) – 80% of students report being ‘quite to very’ comfortable reading online – but fully 20% were ‘fairly – not’ – 50% report using their mobile devices ‘almost daily – daily’ but 50% don’t – 44% used their devices to obtain information (dictionary/research) and a small number use it for note-taking (11%) or outside of class work/homework (12%)
What is the most interesting – and worth heeding – are the comments of kids when asked “Is there anything more we should be asking about using mobile devices at school?” Clearly not all students would find a complete move to technology to be a benefit. In fact, many of their comments mirror the hesitation that some educators express when moving to more technology use in school.– If I was going to use mobile technology at school I’d like there to be a simple, easy to read standard program for viewing – as often it is hard to read scanned documents put online – I would only be comfortable reading online from a computer/tablet – not a hand-held phone -I don’t think students should be allowed to use on-line dictionaries – use a book-based one – I’d like more e-texts so I don’t have to carry books around – I don’t have the internet at home, and my device can’t access it at school – I’m excited that teachers want to integrate technology into my learning – My phone is a Windows phone so I can’t use most apps that are recommended – I am not as comfortable sending work on-line as it may get deleted or not be received – If the school wants us to use the internet – they should stop changing the WiFi password!
What does it mean as I consider paperless? Until there is a supported solution, or push in my school, it will have to remain what it is right now, an option. So my focus will be on expanding options for students to demonstrate learning, Some will continue to do work the traditional way (paper). Others will move/have moved to create and compose on their phones and computers and then submit online. If I do consider ‘all – paperless’ it will be an option for those who find that it works for them. Perhaps, as budgets, priorities in the building, and degree of comfort allow – we may all get there one day.