Paperless Classes: Might Want to Rethink 'The Dog Ate my Homework' Excuse

Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

Paperless Classes: Might Want to Rethink 'The Dog Ate my Homework' Excuse

iPad classroom use.jpgSo I have a question for you students out there: Is it no longer acceptable to show up for class with a trusty pen and notebook? Do students who opt for traditional classroom items look un-cool in the face of their laptop toting, iPad wielding classmates?

Well, for students at McPherson College, not only will you look un-cool if you show up at “Intercultural Communication” class, taught by Dr. Becki Bowman, assistant professor of communication, but you will be violating Bowman’s declaration that Intercultural Communication will be a “paperless class.”

From the very first day of class, students will not be handed one single piece of paper – no paper tests, syllabi, or assignments. Conversely, the 20 coeds will be given iPads to use during the semester and they will turn to these trusty tablets for taking tests, researching, reading textbooks, writing and turning in papers through a wireless application called “Bump.” Once the semester is completed, students will have the opportunity to buy the iPads for $200, as opposed to the $499 it costs brand new.

According to Bowman, going paperless will lead to a more interactive, engaging classroom experience.

“They get more interested in the class. They retain more information. They’re more engaged,” Bowman said in a recent article. “I think the way our country is moving forward with technology, it’s a great skill for them to have.”

For sophomore Josh Dunback, the paperless classroom idea is a novel one that is both exciting and “a little surreal,” he said.

“Having a device that’s as expensive and advanced as this, it’s a great idea to have the college experiment with going with these,” he said. “I think we’re starting to get to a day and age that people know how to use the technology. I think paperless is going to be the way to go in the future.”

In my opinion, Dunback is 100 percent right as paperless will be the way of the future. With medical files, receipts, banking transactions, and sales deals already paperless, it is only a matter of time before schools catch up.

Aside from the obvious benefits of paperless classrooms – such as no more “the dog ate my homework” excuses, back pains from heavy backpacks, and fewer trees having to die – there are some bigger advantages to a paperless classroom as well. Most importantly, it prepares students for the workforce they will eventually enter, a workforce that has given rise to the term BYOD (bring your own device).

In today’s work environment, employees oftentimes have a laptop, second computer screen, a tablet, and a business cell phone. Seldom do people show up to meetings with notebooks as computers and tablets are simply more efficient. Accordingly, kids who are taught to use these technologies at an early age will be able to edge out the competition during job interviews as these skills will become just as valuable as good communications and writing skills.

Already we are seeing a divide at the workplace in that students who were taught how to type and use computers at a young age are outperforming work colleagues whose typing and computational skills might be adequate as best. Those employees are churning out emails at a rapid fire pace, completing duties faster and bringing to their office interactive ways to hold meetings – such as video conferencing.

Bowman is simply at the head of a race that is about to start. Whether it’s a laptop or a tablet, schools need to start figuring out ways to make their students 21st Century ready.

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