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Are Paperless Schools on the Horizon?

Are Paperless Schools on the Horizon?

Schools are renowned for their heavy dependence on paper, from examinations to classroom exercises and hand-outs. The digital revolution has done little to address paper consumption in education, which leaves many questioning whether a paperless future will ever arrive in schools, colleges, and universities. 

However, as electronic processes become increasingly secure, reliable, and sophisticated, could this vision become a reality – eventually? Let’s take a look at the possibilities open to pioneering educational organisations.

Paperless Processes

It’s not hard to see why paper is the preferred choice for teachers. Marking documents, reading notes, filling in forms, taking registers, and planning lessons is considered much easier in a traditional format than using technology. 

However, with the explosion of apps and productivity software that has occurred over the past few years, there are now countless apps that can make these everyday electronic tasks in education easy. Software such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) can assist with almost every aspect of management in education.

As the boom of smart and mobile devices continues, technology such as tablets is falling rapidly in price, making it more and more accessible for institutions of all sizes and budgets. Many schools now give teachers (and even students) a tablet as standard – if these were used to their full potential, paper dependence would decrease dramatically.

Digital Signatures

According to research by AIIM, 44% of respondents believe that physical signatures are a key reason why paper is still so essential. In education, getting parental consent and signing off plans and budgets is an everyday part of school life. However, there are now countless digital signature solutions available for organisations willing to invest in the upgrade.

From encrypted signatures to stylus input on smartphones and tablets, electronic signatures don’t just save money on paper, they also save time by making it easy for parents, teachers, and students to give and gain authorisation. Whereas many people worry about the security and confidentiality of digital signatures, it’s arguably far more risky to gain a paper signature, then scan and distribute it.

Exams and Assessments

Every year, millions of paper examinations are distributed to students all over the country. Technology offers a fantastic opportunity to reduce the impact of exams on the environment, as well as innovative ways to assess students, such as video recording and digital tasks. What’s more, by collecting responses to exam papers electronically, the risk of human error is greatly reduced, ensuring that students get the right grades, as quickly as possible.

These are just a few ways in which technology is rapidly stepping up to the mark of making a paperless future possible. Of course, the transition is never going to be instant, particularly in education where traditional processes are so entrenched. But investment in electronic document management, data security, digital signatures, and mobile technology can bring schools, colleges, and universities ever closer to a more sustainable digital future. 

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