The idea of going paperless is nothing new. In fact, BusinessWeek helped coin the term ‘Paperless Office’ way back in 1975. Despite major leaps in technology since then, we’re still largely living in a paper-fuelled world.
The problem doesn’t seem to be getting any better either. According to an OECD environmental report, global production in paper is expected to increase by 77% between 1995 and 2020. The office is one of the main offenders in its reliance on paper but schools have also traditionally been significant consumers. However, budget constraints and environment considerations have meant ever increasing numbers of schools are becoming active in the fight against paper usage.
Despite positive moves to eradicate paper waste in schools, Edutopia estimates that the average classroom uses 25,000 sheets of paper each year, which equates to 833 pieces of paper per student per year.
With so much of what we do and what students do being reliant on paper, going paperless seems a daunting task. However, ditching paper processes is an extremely effective way to streamline processes, and improve efficiency and productivity. Once we take the steps to reverse the processes we’ve put in place and try something new, the time we have saved will be worth the effort.
The issues most schools face in this area are not so much related to the paper used in classrooms. Finding alternative ways of learning can be as simple as replacing textbooks with eBooks, having greater access to computers and being more creative when it comes to educational activities. For most schools, no paper means no paper forms, yet putting a new and efficient system in place can seem like an expensive and impossible task, and filed away in the ‘too hard basket’.
But with governments, businesses, health services and other industries aiming for a paperless future – and pages of articles being written about its benefits both financially and environmentally – it can only be a matter of time before schools follow suit.
In fact, this kind of change can help improve age-weary systems immeasurably. One big complaint from teachers in sending home permission slips is the response rate from parents confirming their child’s attendance is incredibly low; not because they don’t want their child to attend an excursion or field trip but because the forms often go missing.
Moving to an online system can save time, save cost and improve liability management for both schools and parents. Forms exchanged between schools and parents, online enrolment systems for new and prospective students and common internal forms such as professional development forms, incident forms, forms for casual relief teachers and much more can all be handed very effectively in a digital environment.
Other advantages come with streamlining the storage and access of emergency and medical details, and excursions and permissions forms, as well as implementing email and SMS notification systems.
While many have concerns over data security (see our post ‘The Private Lives of Students’), these services should always be held on secured servers – or in the cloud – using the latest and most advanced encryption methods.
The end result is a school that not only saves money by cutting down on the cost of paper but also saves money through increased productivity and efficiency, giving teachers more time to do what they do best: teach.
ParentPaperwork offers a 30-day free trial so schools can experience the benefits of transitioning to a paperless environment firsthand.