With every course I teach, more and more students mention the use of paper in my courses. Yes, I teach college composition. Yes, we read, a lot and yes, we write even more. Reading and writing have always been associated with paper. The crispness of a brand new book. The crack of the spine as you open it the first time. The smell of the ink on the page. My students; however, complain about the use (or misuse) of paper that my courses generate from course readings, vomit drafts, revision draft, clean drafts and more. My students are generally green-conscious and they are not impressed with the reams of paper that are brandied about in my course. I’ve heard my students and this year I am attempting to solve this issue.
This semester I am embracing technology as I never have before. I am moving beyond Moodle, email and the like. My two sections of composition will be paperless–paperless in terms of zero handouts from me (with the exception of the one-page course introduction with a QR code redirecting towards our course blog) and zero papers from students turned in. Utilizing technology, students will complete a jot form from the course blog and upload all drafts of their papers. Their papers will be automatically uploaded to my dropbox account.
Another challenge for me is to leave my widescreen laptop at home and use my iPad for my on-campus activities. The iPad will allow me to utilze such great apps as Goodreader and iAnnotate to move the documents onto my iPad, provide the detailed and open-ended conversational feedback that I like to give to my students. iAnnotate then allows me to e-mail the fully annotated file back to the student. All on the iPad.
I am hopeful that this workflow flows (for lack of a better word). I spent weeks (yes, weeks) reading, Googling, asking my small, yet growing, PLN on Twitter their experiences. I bought apps for my iPad to try out and then regret spending the $2-$5 for an app that failed to live up to my expectations (yes, I admit they might have been abnormally high). After a solid month, I developed a work flow, that with trial and error on my end, I believe will work.
I am anxious, unsure and wondering how this will work in the actual classroom (not just in my mind) and how the students will work with this concept and if they will embrace it.
It will be a long two months until I introduce this to my students this year. But, I am hopeful.