First, it was the static televisions sets that hung in the front corner of the room. Then, it was the installation of the SmartBoards with the cool calibration game. Along came, the individual Chromebooks that could magically turn into tablets. And now, it is the revolution of “going paperless.” Students are now beginning to purchase iPads and Apple pencils and keyboards in lieu of notebooks, binders, and pens. Backpacks aren’t filled with crumpled papers and broken pencils but rather a slim and light iPad. Their rationales are that they are saving the trees while keeping all their school work organized and easily accessible. However, it is important to consider all the pros and cons of taking part in the paperless revolution.
Let’s begin with all the positive aspects of going paperless. Well, of course, with all the environmental issues occurring such as deforestation, going paperless across the country will significantly impact our paper usage in schools. Since paper is used in abundance for educational purposes, going paperless could significantly reduce the paper usage and, most importantly, save the trees. Another beneficial aspect of going paperless is organization. Many of the kids I have seen with the fancy iPads and Apple pencils love to have everything neat, in one place and easily accessible. And various platforms, like GoodNote and OneNote, provide that satisfaction to these students. In addition, teachers will never have to worry about excuses like “My dog ate my homework” or “I lost the review sheet”. Everything can be easily downloaded from apps like Canvas or other educational platforms for the student’s convenience. However, despite making our backpacks lighter and making it easier to locate math homework, there are many more significant disadvantages to going paperless that may not make this perfect solution be so perfect.
For current high school students, we were always taught penmanship and arithmetic on the old-fashioned pencil and paper. It is what we are used to and what is making many kids hesitant about making the switch: the fear of change. For the new generation of elementary school kids, they are able to start early using and learning iPad techniques so in a few years, going paperless in high school will be no problem. For us, however, it is difficult to go against something that we have been using our whole lives-- and what generations before us had used. In addition, can you even fathom all the things that could go wrong leading to the downfall of homework, tests, and grades? Imagine it is 2 AM and you just finished studying for an AP Physics test and you just pass out on your bed. You wake up the next morning and you realize you forgot to charge your iPad; then you have to go through the hassle of figuring out how to charge it quickly so can learn in school. (Would this happen with a paper and pen?) What if your iPad need to reboot and all your notes for a whole year of school is … poof… gone? All these potential issues are concerns everyone thinks about before committing to going paperless and often are the deterrents in joining the revolution. Finally, one of the most important concerns of teachers and parents is that an educational tool will turn into a major distraction. While it may seem like a student is sitting in class and taking notes, they could actually be doodling, playing video games or scrolling through Instagram. These smart-tablet companies have made switching platforms so easy that these students will never get caught. Thus, iPads can be huge distractions that take away from valuable learning time.
Overall, going paperless is great; it has all these apparent benefits, however when you truly get critical of this ongoing revolution so many tiny but important flaws arise making it seem not so perfect. There is no way to stop this snowballing revolution however becoming more aware of its potential downsides can prompt teachers, parents, companies and even students to address the disadvantages to make paperless a better experience for future generations.