6 Ways To Have A Paperless Classroom

digital studentTextbooks and education as a whole is undergoing a disruption as you read this. Libraries are digitizing, teachers are connecting, and students are still lugging around heavy textbooks and notebooks. Yep, the change to a 100% paperless classroom is happening but it’s still a few years out. For now, it’s time to start thinking about how we can equip students with as much digital information as possible without sacrificing the benefits of the standard method of note-taking and paper-centric learning.

In other words, how can students leverage the benefits of the web and devices without losing a step? It’s a gradual process, to be sure. This post was originally submitted by Lina Souzain and has been edited to make it even more useful for the teacher or student looking to jump on the digital bandwagon. Below are a handful of simple ways for students to get on board.

1. Consider The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Did you know that this e-book reader is a little-talked-about tool (in education circles at least) that should be considered for any classroom with plenty of reading to do. I have a Kindle Paperwhite and it has allowed me to increase the number of books I’ve read by about 400% over the past month. During the first week I had it, I read 7 books! The screen is great inside and out – and it’s lack of features is a real feature. It forces you to concentrate on the task at hand and not switch over to Angry Birds 10 times an hour.

2. Take Notes on your Smart Phone or Tablet

We would have suggested taking notes on your laptop too, but with the evolution of technological devices, the job of jotting down notes has become less cumbersome. There are many note-taking applications that can be downloaded on your smartphone or tablet, such as Evernote, Microsoft OneNote Mobile, etc.

3. Use Google Docs / Drive for Sharing Documents

Is there a project coming up that you need to work on with your peers? In order to keep your study group in the loop with whatever you are doing, explore the option of Google Docs / Drive. Any changes you make in a document are instantly edited on the online version of the document, where your peers can see the changes and the edited version instantly, if you’ve allowed them to share the files. Who needs to exchange bundles of notes now!

4. Complete and Submit Assignments Online

For online students, it’s increasingly easier to submit assignments, chat with peers, and post questions to the professor(s). For offline students, a high quality student portal, a classroom blog, or even just a simple upload form can be a huge help. As long as it allows students (online and offline) to submit assignments, the simple functionality of an online document uploader is worth it.

5. Check for Plagiarism

No college allows for plagiarized work, and students have to be extremely careful when they submit their work. Thanks to online plagiarism detectors like Turnitin, they don’t have to tediously go through pages and pages to make sure they’ve mentioned references and endnotes where and when needed.

6. Take Exams on the Computer

Gone are the days when teachers would have to go through pages and pages of ink to grade a student’s assessment. Many schools and colleges today have a designated examination lab, where students come and take their exams on the computer. Online students may also have the option, particularly when it comes to multi-choice questions or true/false quizzes. Even assessments have become paperless today.

Now be the tech-savvy student of today, and show the world how to ace your studies without any paper or textbook!


  1. Bernadette Gallagher

    February 17, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Digital is the way to go. Thanks for putting me in the direction of some of the new technology. The article also prompts me to think about alternative ways to reach learners.

  2. Garry Crosbie

    February 17, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    This is an essential read for all serious educationalists. Education cannot ignore the importance of new technology and new media in learning and examinations. This is the 21st century after all.

  3. Kevin McWain

    February 19, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    I love it. My high school has a 1:1 MacBook initiative. There is a possibility we will transition to iPads. One of the biggest concerns is whether or not teachers will be able to print. The Apple rep’s response, “Why would you ever need to print?”