Our schools and colleges are our society’s investment in the future. They’re filled with students who will one day be citizens contributing to the greater good of our civilizations; they’ll become our doctors, our accountants, our teachers, politicians, leaders, and more besides. As such, they need to be setting the examples for us all to follow, and putting the wheels in motion for a brighter tomorrow.
With that in mind, it’s almost unbelievable that schools and colleges in every village, town, and city on earth remain completely reliant on paper a highly unsustainable material, which is contributing to the kind of ecological disaster we’re currently rocketing towards at breakneck speed. We’re constantly being reminded, as normal members of the public, to cut down on our energy usage, to turn off lights, to consider using renewable energies and reduce our waste… and yet every day, our places of learning make their way through endless reams of paper. Surely this has to come to an end?
Key Benefits to Saying Goodbye to Paper
The benefits to going paperless in schools and colleges doesn’t end with the positive environmental impact such a move would make. Once you start looking at the other plus points to moving towards a paperless academic system, it becomes incredibly difficult to argue against it. Such benefits include: More Efficient Marking
All teachers struggle with the amount of time it takes to go through page after page of written texts: just imagine how much 5-paragraph essay assignments going throughout all of the teachers within 1 year! By having all written and academic work submitted online via a learning portal or similar, teachers’ time would be used considerably more efficiently. This would free up their hours which could be spent on doing their jobs more effectively, as well as getting rid of the problems caused by illegible handwriting and other factors which slow down the marking process.
The Environmental Impact of Paper
We’re so accustomed to using paper on a daily basis, it’s sometimes difficult to remember just how unsustainable this substance actually is. We’ve been using it for hundreds if not thousands of years, and while sustainable papers are available (either recycled paper, or paper made from other sustainable materials such as textile waste), they’re generally considered too costly to be used in our schools.
The figures speak for themselves. One tonne of paper uses no less than 24 trees, and this is eye-opening 90,000 liters of water. On top of this, paper production is far from energy efficient and requires the use of vast amounts of electricity and oil. What’s more, more than half of paper isn’t recycled and ends up heading for the landfill. It is an enormously wasteful material and one which can be quickly done away within schools and colleges worldwide. Paperless Learning Isn’t Something New
It’s true. It’s 2019, and laptop computers, smartphones, and digital tablets and other mobile devices are far from commonplace. The current generation of students at schools and colleges are what is known as ‘digital natives’ that is, they’ve grown up with such devices being a fundamental part of their landscape. As such, moving over to digital learning tools (and thus getting rid of the reliance on paper) wouldn’t just be a powerful move towards a greener society, it would also be something our students would be more than happy and comfortable with as a shift in their way of learning. We’re no longer in the dark ages. It’s time to make the kind of positive change that would have an impact that could last for generations.
No More Printing
If you’ve ever worked in a job which was reliant on paper, you’ll be more than aware of how long it takes to print everything out each day. Teachers waste an enormous amount of time standing next to printers and photocopiers, waiting for all the pages to be completed and ready to hand out to their students. Going paperless in schools would not only be a green approach, it would again increase classroom and staff efficiency by a considerable amount.
Faster Flow of Information
By switching over to effective digital tools (such as a custom digital communication platform for each class), information flows considerably more quickly and effectively, especially for a generation who communicate primarily through typing and instant messages. What’s more, that information can be tracked, recorded, and recovered, and it’s always in the right hands. This leads to greater efficiency and productivity, and will doubtlessly create a learning environment which is more comfortable for the majority of today’s students. Reduced Costs
Businesses and governments which have switched to paperless systems have saved millions of dollars. Paper is expensive, and it becomes more expensive each year as production costs rise with the price of oil and raw materials. Schools and colleges are pressed for funds at the best of times, and removing the reliance on paper would considerable cut costs, and save money which could be better spent elsewhere. Preparing for the Future.
Nobody could deny that the future is going to be more digitized than ever before, and computer literacy and various online skills are going to be vital for almost 100% of the workforce in the coming years. Academic institutions which insist on online communication and paperless written work will be instilling computer literacy into their students, something which will doubtlessly pay off in dividends after graduation. On top of this, the green message is one which students can learn from and take into the broader world as adults, and nobody could deny we need more eco-conscious individuals in our society. It’s somehow difficult to believe that the institutions we trust to instill our young people with sustainable values are still relying so heavily on paper. It’s also difficult to think that this is going to continue in the future, as resources become increasingly scarce, and pressure mounts for all aspects of society to make positive and green changes. Hopefully, this reliance on paper will soon end, and we can all look forward to a brighter and greener tomorrow.