Paperless students? Never going to happen

Paperless students? Never going to happen

Summary: Students, even in this technological revolution, are failing to move away from pulp and paper to the more seemingly convenient netbook or laptop. But why?

TOPICS: Mobility, CXO, Hardware

We live in an age where technology is rife. We cannot escape from mobile phones, computers, netbooks, projectors, e-readers and the rest of it. But students simply couldn't go paperless. The chances are it'll never happen, or at least if it does, when I am long gone, dead and buried.

The argument for going paperless is stronger than ever, with learners wanting less paper and more technology, and teachers wanting less paper to manage and deal with.

But this is schoolchildren we are talking about, not university students. Students in higher education relish using paper; allowing them to spread their thoughts across multiple pages and across multiple work surfaces.

The incentives are there; every time I print something off at university, because I need to use my university username and password to print, it records when I do so. But every print-out leaves me with a pop-up guilt trip reminding me of how much of a tree I'm destroying in the process.

Forget computer science students because they are a minority at most institutions. Of course they will be using their netbooks, Androids, smartphones and iPhones to tap away at during a programming lecture. But the rest of the students on campus are more than happy with scraps of paper, Post-it notes and lined paper with scribbles on. The rest of the campus doesn't engage with technology on an everyday basis so they are not missing out in the first place.

For this, when writing up the notes later into electronic format, we can have a sense of satisfaction about screwing up the paper and chucking it away.

How would you write notes onto a PDF file? Yes, you could use a touchscreen computer, but handwriting recognition isn't an exact science yet and a pad of paper and a Biro pen are far cheaper.

Taking books out of the library aren't always possible. Sure, we could grab our Kindle and download the book but why should we when we are spending thousands of our respective currencies on library provisions? Some books are only available for an hour at a time, so instead of scanning them into a computer for later analysis, photocopying is a more sensible solution. Those who remember will know that I have proven this one long ago.

In realistic terms, the only computers students want to use is the one computer that they are using to write their essays on. Besides that, technology has yet to really have a major impact on the main brunt of our degree courses - the discussion seminar - where all you need is your mind and your mouth.

Me? Personally? Many can testify to this. I would be far happier with a handful of notes, scribbles and scraps than a netbook. Would you rather go paperless?

Topics: Mobility, CXO, Hardware

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  • Got an idea...

    If someone wants to do without paper, toilet-paper,
    a car/truck, air conditioning, and never pass
    gas. Than more power to them, on the other hand
    stop forcing these lunatic policies on employers,
    small business and the rest of society.

    In the meantime, people have to work, to earn money
    to eat and raise their families.

    I guess the Oboma is going to give out paychecks
    to everyone along with free housing, and free
    health_care so everyone will be living perfectly.
    • err...

      he was only talking about the possibility of students going paperless because technology is advancing at such a rate where it is technically possible to live without paper in the modern world (for the most part), but then concludes by saying that it's much more practical (and cheaper) to use the old Post-Its (and etc.)

      Nothing to do with toilet paper, car, AC, and farting. Where in the world did you think he was implying that? Oh, and this is definitely a politics-free story, so where exactly does the president come into play? Also, it's spelled Obama, not Oboma ;)
      • re: err

        Well, it will be illegal to pass gas
        with the new climate tax and trade bill.

        Plus, the income tax bracket is fixin
        to change, the 'change' is coming
        and I hope the people who voted
        for 'Oboma' or Barry enjoy it!
  • Do not feel guilty about using paper

    many of the papaer companies are using a combonation of both recycled paper products, and trees harvested from sustainable forests.

    I would feel guilty if I were to throw the used piece of paper into the local garbage can, as opposed to disposing of it in a "recycled paper" bin located at pretty much every campus.
  • Two things to consider

    1. There is no technology that can fully replace paper at the moment, at least not for students. There are times when you just need to scribble some notes on a page, provide yourself with an example in the margin, etc. There's just no convenient/easy way to do this with current technoligies like PDFs (although I really wish there were).

    2. We're using foolish amounts of paper on foolish things. I had some legal matter to take care of so the government mailed me a letter asking me "are you really who you claim you are, if not then don't sign this form because it will be illegal". Come on, what a complete idiotic waste of paper. I think that 75% (if not more) of the paper forms I've filled out over the last 10 years were a complete waste of paper and resources. The simple truth is we could easily cut back on the use of paper and go nearly paperless if we really wanted to. According to Bill Gate's book Microsoft went as paperless as possible years ago and found that it actually increased their productivity.
    • You'd use soemthing like OneNote.

      "There are times when you just need to scribble
      some notes on a page, provide yourself with an
      example in the margin, etc. There's just no
      convenient/easy way to do this with current
      technoligies like PDFs"

      Actually, there is. OneNote (available in student
      and high end versions of Office). I can start
      writing or typing anywhere on a page.
      • OneNote isn't a scratch pad though...

        I think OneNote is a great product and has a lot
        of unrealized potential, but it's not the same as
        pen and paper.
  • Thoughts

    "How would you write notes onto a PDF file?"

    You'd use something like OneNote. Most note taking
    software allows you to import documents and type/write
    on them.

    When I *had* a tablet PC (eventually had to get rid of
    it, sadly), I was importing PowerPoint slides before
    class and taking notes on the slides as the lecturer
    presented them!

    "Taking books out of the library aren?t always
    possible. Sure, we could grab our Kindle and download
    the book"

    The truth? Even with the vast library of Amazon, my
    library + interlibrary loan has thousands of years of
    books not digitized yet.

    Not to mention even with new books, they can be
    difficult to get, as the publishers aren't really fond
    of the new digital stuff. Last I checked, none of my
    textbooks are available for the Kindle.

    I will note that I type faster than I write - so
    actually I find a notebook very convenient for notes,
    especially in classes where the vast majority of notes
    are text.

    It's the math classes that really get to you. No
    matter what the software, and no matter if you're
    using some text based or WYSIWYG equation editor -
    it's still faster to write equations on paper.

    Also classes that require a lot of diagrams and charts
    tend to be more suitable for paper. Drawing a diagram
    with the mousepad that comes with a laptop is a pain.

    A tablet is really the only truly good replacement for
    pencil and paper in classes like those. It has to be
    responsive and accurate.

    Unfortunately, tablets ended up being too expensive
    for students and never took off. So unless they make a
    comeback - pencil and paper are here to stay.
  • RE: Paperless students? Never going to happen

    thats really stupid. I'd screen shot that and get a t-shirt made up with some smart comment about it! haha

  • RE: Paperless students? Never going to happen

    Why technology can't replace paper yet...especially for

    1. there is no outlet for every student in majority of
    2. battery dies
    3. it is painful to do both notes and graphs fast enough on
    computer to keep up with professor
    4. computer does not always respond instantly
    5. documents on computer have "margin" and it might not
    print correctly
    6. it is faster to flip pages then scrolling
    7. netbook is great but small screen is painful
    8. 16" screen laptop is great but battery life sucks
    9. it is easier to have two books and do cross-reference
    then two split screens only can show 2/3 of both
    10. it is easier to hold 1 page of highlight before exam
    than a laptop
    11. paper does not have compatibility problem
    12. computer has potential mechanical problems and the
    only threat to paper is your dog
    13. you still need paper to turn in in-class work

    As a college student, I still prefer to use traditional
    notebook in class then organize in Word is great but it is not "simple"
    enough to do what I need, yet.

    There are other things can save all those junk