Paperless classroom arrives in TN

A tech cart with tablet computers - enough for every kid in the class - travels the hallways of a private school, bringing electronic texts that can be updated and extended with multimedia.

Most people have heard of the as-yet-to-arrive paperless office—but a paperless classroom? Students at one school in Tennessee have practically jettisoned their hefty textbooks in favor of the online version, reports The Tennessean.

Students at Battle Ground Academy, a private school in Tennessee, use a tablet to access the online textbooks. The tablets come on a technology cart which carries enough tablets for all the students in the classroom. Each tablet costs about $1,500, compared with the $300-$500 a year it might cost for books, but the electronic tool will last them throughout their high school years. Students and teachers are grateful not to be lugging around the eight-pound "Elements of Literature" textbook anymore.

"We weighed it. The teacher's edition is even heavier," said teacher Traci Keel. "A lot of students leave them in the class room now instead of taking them to their locker, or they just leave them at home."

The high-tech media cart serves as a kind of lending library until students will be ask to buy a tablet. The tablet is similar to a laptop computer. "As soon as they have those in class, they won't need books anymore," Keel said.

Battle Ground Academy invested $400,000 to make the transition to online textbooks. The school has also added wireless Internet, trained staff and bought 75 tablets.

"You can take a Word document, make annotations right on the screen, mark it up and send it back to the student. You can do that without even being in school. They can take notes, go back and edit them, organize them, copy and paste outlines from Web sites. They can drop in sections of digital media so they can have a video clip. We're a way from realizing all of those, but it is really exciting to think what we can do in a few years' time," said John Griffith, headmaster at Battle Ground Academy.