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Starting a Paperless Classroom from Scratch

Jayne Miller wrote this on Mar 11, 2015

You run a traditional classroom, but you’re ready to adopt a paperless system. What’s next?

Fair question. As much as this transition will entail distributing course codes and setting up online discussion spaces, there must be a change in process/teaching for your digital system to win. That’s the one we’re going to talk about today.

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Before you read ahead -- shameless plug -- we’ll be discussing this transition and going over the tech side of setting up classes with Chalkup in a free webinar on March 12 at 4 pm EDT. Join us.

Okay. Forging ahead.

Make Sure You’re Actually Ready

In our Administrator’s Guide to Going Paperless we identify three main challenges to getting a classroom ready to go digital: access, training, and cost. Chief among these is ensuring that your students will have devices and internet available to them outside of the classroom to work, share, discuss, and contribute. Support from districts and 1:1 initiatives play a key role in this process.

Once past these considerations (and we appreciate what big considerations they are) a classroom has the prerequisites to take on a digital system and succeed.

Be a Facilitator

Moving to a paperless sytem means a shift in classroom culture. We’re not advocating specifically for flipped, blended, or inverted classrooms. We’re advocating for what makes these models work: a teacher who facilitates collaboration and coaches students. That’s the classroom culture needed for a paperless system to win. Lesson plans will begin to look less like assignment after assignment and more like collaboration opportunity after collaboration opportunity.

Set an Expectation of Engagement, Collaboration

We’ve heard success stories from educators who set ground rules for online class collaboration, both in etiquette and level of engagement. These teachers set expectations of collaboration, question-asking, pursuing interests, and online resource-sharing to build an environment where students starting discussion threads is the norm.

This could look like an online participation grade or a comment quota, or maybe a policy that covers expectations of online participation and idea-sharing.

Have Learning Goals for Paperless

We don’t want to encourage creating a paperless classroom for the sake of doing so; there needs to be larger learning goals. What can this tech do for your students that writing information on a blackboard could not?


Lots more discussion on class culture in our webinar and elsewhere on the Chalkup blog. See you there.

How to Start a Paperless Classroom

Topics: Chalkup, Teachers