The Voice of Teachers in a Paperless Classroom

Miri Shonfeld, Hagit Meishar Tal
Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning  •  Volume 13  •  2017  •  pp. 185-196

This study took place in a school with a “paperless classroom” policy. In this school, handwriting and reading on paper were restricted. The purpose of this study was to gain insights from the teachers teaching in a paperless classroom and to learn about the benefits and challenges of teaching and learning in such an environment.

In recent years, many schools are moving towards a “paperless classroom” policy, in which teachers and students use computers (or other devices such as tablet PCs) as an alternative to notebooks and textbooks to exchange information and assignments electronically both in and out of class. This study took place in a school with a “paperless classroom” policy. In this school, handwriting and reading on paper were uncommon.

This qualitative study involved semi-structured interviews with 12 teachers teaching in a paperless school. The research questions dealt with the instruc-tional model developed, the various ways in which the teachers incorporated the technology in their classrooms, and the challenges and difficulties they encountered.

This study provides important advice to the way teachers have to work in paperless classrooms.

It pointed out the contribution to students in three ways: preparing students for the future; efficiency of learning; empowerment of students. The teachers presented a variety of innovative methods of using the laptops in class and described a very similar structure of the lesson. The teachers described the difficulties involved in conducting a paperless classroom instruction and emphasized that despite the efficiency of the computer and its ability to support the teaching process, they used technology critically. The findings also indicate that some teachers were concerned that the transition from the regular classroom to a paperless one may negatively impact students’ reading and writing skills.

Teaching in a paperless school is challenging. On the one hand, going paperless contributes to active and adaptive learning, efficiency, and the acquisition of 21st-century skills or, as they described their main goal, to prepare students for the future. On the other hand, computers in class cause problems such as distraction and disciplinary issues, information overload, and disorganized information as well as technological concerns.

Teachers in the paperless school develop a solid rationale relying on ideas for teaching and learning in a paperless environment, and use varied technologies and develop innovative pedagogies. They are aware of the challenges of this environment and concerned about the disadvantages of using the technology. Thus they develop a realistic and critical view of the paperless classroom.

Future studies investigating the teachers’ voice as well as the pupils’ aspect could help guide schools in preparing teachers for the paperless classroom.

paperless classroom, teachers, K-12, BYOD, laptops
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