Wow. Columbia University has paperless classes! Students don’t have to “hand” anything in as a hardcopy. In fact, the professor refuses to take it! Not only are they saving the environment, the students are submitting work in an online environement that is rich in not only text, but also graphics, audio, and video. How cool would it be to have a class where the students don’t submit work on paper? As a teacher, I would feel much more comfortable grading my student’s work. I always say that the worst part of teahing is grading papers. Sitting at your desk and staring at a massive pile of paper just doesn’t motivate me to get it done. However, if I have to assess projects, essays or other products that contain multimedia images, I would love to complete my grading. Also, the linked article above mentions that Professor Marc Myer said, “Studies have shown that the most effective learning takes place when a student develops an emotional attachment to the work.” If my students can create media rich work and taylor it to fit their personallity and style, they are becoming emotionally attached to their work. That is awesome.
As with any assessment or graded project, there would have to be an extensive lesson on the process to create, submit, and review graded material. Also, students would have to be given rubrics for expectations of graded work. I believe that they would be more apt to follow the rubrics if they could submit all work online. With web 2.0 tools lik Google Docs, students can share work, ideas, projects, presentations, and data. They can offer real-time feedback to each other. Each time they share and discuss their work, they are creating connections in their network. I feel like it would be an extremely easy way to build a learning network online. Not only can they share with each other, they can share with you as the teacher. I have had students submit work to me electronically before it was due so that I could comment on it and give them feedback. It is an extremely powerful tool. Also, with a paperless learning environment, they can work on their own time. I can only hope that we can start moving toward paperles classrooms. Seeing the amount of paper that is wasted everyday makes the trees in our school yard shiver.