Friday, October 21, 2016

Will paperless classrooms be the wave of the future?

I’m one of the first generations of students to have a computer in the classroom. Starting in the first grade I remember using a Macintosh Classic once a week in the computer lab. We would write short stories in a word processor, blow up our artwork in KidPix, or ride in a wagon train in Oregon Trail. Looking back, all my experiences in technology seem to be more of a novelty rather than an educational tool.
As an educator I have fully embraced technology in the classroom.  We are a one to one middle school. We provide a tablet to each student to aid in their education. The key word is “aid” in their education. I need to make sure that I am not just using technology as a novelty, not just replacing textbooks and paper with a digital device. I need to figure out different ways to use technology in the classroom to make the students learning experience better.

Early on in education, I decided to make my classroom paperless. I don’t give out worksheets to students. I don’t make a million photocopies each year. All my resources are online on a digital classroom. All my documents are stored in the cloud and students can access them whenever they need them. Students no longer have planners or assignment notebooks. All of their calendars are online. Not only can students access these materials, but so can their parents. Gone are the days of, “I forgot my homework at school.” Or, “I don’t remember what homework I had.” Everything is online.

Parents, for the most part, have fully embraced my digital classroom. I’m not answering countless emails from parents each week explaining homework or why their child got the grade they did. Everything is digital. Parents are able to check what homework is turned in. Parents can check graded assignments with a click of a button.
Students too have come to embrace my digital classroom. I am reminded every day from students to make sure to post assignments on my classroom page. Students seem to be eager to complete assignments online. Students who have, in the past, forgotten to turn in homework seem to love my digital classroom. Once they complete their assignment they can submit the assignment instantly; no more black hole backpacks.

Will paperless classrooms be the wave of the future? Will students live in a physical classroom and work in a digital one? Only time will tell. In the past twenty-five years I have gone from playing Pitfall to grading assignments on my computer. We’ll see where the next twenty-five years takes us.

Mr. Chris Melnyk
Middle School Teacher

Saint Francis Xavier School

Developing the whole person:

Academics, Faith, Community and Character

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