By Khaled Fawal
The glaring depletion of resources, the rise of oil prices on a global scale and the pressing need to address rapid climate change have suddenly made sustainability the central dilemma of our generation. Of course, scientific institutions are constantly introducing innovations that provide various solutions, but, as ordinary citizens, we too have the ability to make a difference. Indeed, at Vanier College, there are a great number of modifications to the traditional system that can bring about positive change, and the paperless classroom appears to be a convenient alternative now more than ever. This essay will elaborate on student response to a virtual classroom, on its various environmental benefits, and on its educational advantages as well.
First, the virtual classroom has been generally well-received by the majority of students. Indeed, a research study at the University of Texas was conducted to evaluate student satisfaction with the paperless classroom, and the results were overwhelming. According to the study, 90% of participating students were encouraged by the prospect of integrating online assignment submission, since it made work management much easier. In the end, the same number of students preferred the paperless classroom to the conventional system most educational institutions abide by. Also, most students at Vanier College are already very familiar with electronic devices, since the majority of them have grown in an environment monopolized by technology. These favorable circumstances would obviously make the integration of downloadable course materials on their tablets and electronic devices a lot more straightforward. A study at Pepperdine University underlined the benefits of electronic devices in academic environments. Indeed, the iPad tablet served as an e-reader providing digital course materials, and the results were, again, astounding. Most students were not distracted by the other capabilities of the iPad, while also citing its portability as an added incentive to using it more often. The introduction of paperless classrooms has been universally acclaimed by students, and it would undoubtedly have a positive impact here at Vanier College as well.
Second, the incorporation of technology in the classroom would evidently help improve the school’s ecological footprint. With e-readers gaining popularity by the second, the book industry has seen an incredible reduction in their in-office printing. Therefore, there is also a noticeable reduction in the amount of trees being brought down for the purpose of producing books. Indeed, according to a study by Procedia, a report released by Green Press Initiative suggests that the production of textbooks requires around 200,000 tons of paper. In order to produce such a vast amount of paper, approximately 4 million trees are forced to hit the ground. In the end, the making of textbooks is responsible for around 20% of the total paper intended for the book publishing sector. Of course, there is no denying the necessity of trees. Those majestic blessings of nature provide us with oxygen, while also creating a peaceful, aesthetically pleasing environment. Their presence is vital to human life and wildlife as well. If the e-book alternative would be adopted by the great majority, a significant amount of trees would be preserved, and the diffusion of information would successfully maintain its climb.
Third, virtual classrooms are also important components for the development of education. As mentioned before, the world we live in today is dictated by technology. Indeed, the modernity that surrounds us defines the era we live in, and paperless classrooms will prepare students for the technology-driven workplace of tomorrow. According to The Education Arcade, “there’s a sharp disconnect between the way students are taught in school and the way the outside world approaches socialization, meaning-making, and accomplishment.” While the main purpose of our educational institutions is to teach, it is also crucial for such institutions to implement methods that facilitate the integration of students into society. In other words, they must make the merging of these two worlds as seamless and consistent as possible. Furthermore, technology in the classroom would create a more dynamic learning environment for students. Again, according to the study by The Education Arcade, many teachers that embrace the potential of emerging technologies have noticed that chairs are filled more frequently than not. The reason is quite simple: students dedicate much more attention to lessons when multimedia education is involved. They understand the concepts better, and show a lot more interest towards the addressed subjects. Imagine Vanier College students walking through class doors with excitement every day. The introduction of these emerging technologies would only benefit the learning process, while also creating a more pleasant environment for both students and teachers alike.
In conclusion, the integration of the paperless classroom would undoubtedly be lauded by students, it would help improve the college’s ecological footprint, and it would facilitate student productivity in the classroom. In the end, Vanier College is a place that can only gain from these powerful emerging technologies.
Embong, A. M., Noor, A. M., Hashim, H. M., Ali, R. M., & Shaari, Z. H. E-Books as Textbooks in the Classroom. 2012.
Arney Janna, Jones Irma & Wolf Angela. “Going green: paperless technology and feedback from the classroom”. Journal of Sustainability and Green Business. ND.
Cameron, Andrea H.; Bush, Michael H., Ed.D. Pepperdine University, 2011. Digital course materials: A case study of the Apple iPad in the academic environment.
Groff Jennifer, Haas Jason, Klopfer Eric, & Osterweil Scot. “Using the technology of today, in the classroom today”. The Education Arcade. 2009.