Let’s just lay out the facts here. First, it is now the year 2013. Second, while we may not have flying cars and jetpacks yet, it should at least be possible to get rid of all the little pieces of paper that are invading our lives. Yet they still seem to be popping up everywhere!
Teachers have it even worse than the rest of the world: they not only have their own papers to deal with, but assignments and other documents from students as well! If only we could get rid of them all and move them into the digital realm…
Fear no more, dear readers! I’m here to show you how to do exactly that: go (almost) paperless in our brave new world of digitization. Follow me; in 3 easy steps you too can forget about most of your papers forever!
1. Scan All The Things!
The first step in going paperless is, of course, to scan your existing paper documents into a digital format, most likely an Adobe PDF. Scanners are pretty cheap these days, and you can find flatbed models for around $50 (example). If you want to spring for something a little fancier, you could go for a Doxie mobile scanner. Either way, all you have to do is invest some time and scan everything onto your computer, being sure to keep the documents in some sort of folder structure that works for you.
For student records you may have to be careful though, as some documents will no doubt need to remain in paper form. Consult your district administration to see what the exact requirements are for your district. Even so, you’ll probably be able to eliminate a large amount of paper documents that don’t pertain to students.
Believe it or not, there are also companies out there that will scan your books and other documents for you for a small fee. 1DollarScan is a good example. You simply place an order online, ship them the materials you want scanned, and in a couple weeks you’ve got scanned PDFs of everything you sent in!
2. Stop Using Your Notebook
Most of the paper we end up dealing with is self-generated. I’m thinking of notes in notebooks, post-it notes on our desks, and scraps of paper with all sorts of information scribbled on them. Thankfully, replacing this disorganized system is easy in the 21st century. The solution is called Evernote, and we’ve written about it before here on Fractus Learning.
Essentially, Evernote acts as a giant digital notebook into which you can offload all sorts of knowledge and information. It’s perfect for things like taking notes, keeping a journal, and storing files and the notes that go along with them. It can be sort of confusing to start out, but thankfully Evernote has created a special page of resources just for educators.
3. Take Your To-Do’s Digital
After you’re done replacing paper for note-taking, you also need to replace paper when it comes to your to-do list. Online to-do apps are far better than simple pen and paper anyway, since you can access them anywhere, update them more easily, and set up advanced features like repeating tasks that are hard to do on paper.
My personal favorite when it comes to online task management apps is Remember the Milk, although Lifehacker has a list of some other ones that may work better for you. I usually set my browser’s homepage to my task list so that every time I start up the Internet I have my to-do items right in front of me.
That’s it, readers! In just 3 steps you’ve probably eliminated a large proportion of the paper you having lying around.
Let us know in the comments if you’ve tried to go paperless before and what teacher-friendly tools worked for you!
Image courtesy of Flickr, waferboard.