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Wednesday
Jun292011

2011 TechDayPlus: Kelly Butler and Michael Wilkins

The following is a summary of the presentation given by Kelly Butler and Michael Wilkins

Teaching Paperless

By Kelly Butler and Michael Wilkins
Kansai University of International Studies

Teaching paperless lessens the need for teachers and students to carry heavy loads of books and papers and streamline the process of teaching and studying at university. Our presentation focused on the tools we use to teach paperless.

First we talked about the need for a "home base". One place where all relevant information can be collected and found anytime. With Google Calendar students can look at the calendar in the month view, find their course, click and all the relevant information for that particular class will pop up. Another "home base" tool is Google Documents. Teachers create an online document with all the class information on it for easy access by the students. Students in turn create their own online e-portfolio with Google Documents and share it with the teacher. A third tool is Facebook. Teachers create a private Facebook group and invite all the class members to join. All class information and assignments are put in the Facebook group. Our final tool that we have been using extensively is Dropbox. With Dropbox teachers and students can easily share files including audio and video that are too big to easily share otherwise. Teachers can create a class folder to share files or teachers can create a folder for each student, effectively using an e-portfolio system.

These same tools can also be used for in class work. Google Documents can be used to give in class feedback. Students are writing in their own sections of one document. The teacher can see what each student is writing as they write it and has the opportunity to give feedback immediately by writing a note right in the document. Google Documents can also be used by students in groups to collaborate on projects outside of class time. Dropbox as well allows the teacher or groups of students to create shared folders for specific projects that can be worked on in or out of class.

Saving paper and not having to carry so many materials are obvious advantages to using these tools. We also talked about how they can be used for collaborative learning. Students as well as teachers are busy and often live far apart so meeting is not as easy as teachers sometimes assume, using these tools allows students to collaborate whenever and from wherever they are. This also eliminates many student excuses: "I didn't know what to do", "I forgot my xxx", "I lost my xxx" etc, everything is always there. A final advantage is students get to practice using tools and processes that are more and more an essential part of our working life.

We talked about some obvious disadvantages. Students need reliable access to internet-connected computers. We work in a situation where each student has a laptop at all times and there is a campus Wi-Fi network. As well there can be a steep learning curve at first so teachers need to be prepared.

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