After returning to in-person learning, teachers have continued a digital learning plan, reducing the use of paper.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant change in how school work is distributed among the students at Thomas Jefferson High School. Digital worksheets and online resources have been presented as a key resource for students, despite the transition back to an in-person learning environment. This is due to teachers being entirely dependent on the internet and digital devices during an 18 month period of virtual learning. As a result, there has been a noticeable reduction in paper usage throughout the school, along with the addition of a Chromebook from Denver Public Schools that has been distributed to every student in the TJ community.
The comparison of technology and written work has presented a variety of questions in regards to student health and success. In terms of student health problems related to excessive screen time, Dr. Christopher Starr, an ophthalmologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, told CBS News, “Computer vision syndrome. . . combines both eye strain from just staring at the computers which are right in front of you for all those hours, that is 13 hours or more. . . The blink rate, which is normally about 16-18 times a minute, decreases by about 50% to maybe eight blinks a minute.” These scientific studies show that increased screen time for students could possibly result in a negative impact on their eyesight. Even though students have been reintroduced to in-person learning, technology has become a key factor in the classroom environment. This can be attributed to modern society being so interconnected to the digital aspect of life.
Student success can be tied to the Chromebook distribution because more screen time can cause mental and physical fatigue. However, it can have a multitude of positive impacts on concentration, engagement, and efficiency as well. According to Chloe D’Angelo, an educator at the UOIT, studies have shown how “students report high levels of satisfaction with the use of educational technology, as it allows them to interactively engage in learning. . . Students also believe that technology facilitates a greater understanding of course content, contributes to higher academic achievement and better prepares them for the technology-dependent workforce.” The positive input made by students shows they feel that educational tools from technology have increased their success rates by being an efficient resource for managing and completing their work. Overall, it appears that younger generations are more engaged in the learning experience because of the technology they are provided with.
With more school work being done digitally, there are fewer paper copies created, which is a sustainable practice to recognize. Statistics from the web page of Record Nations shows that an average of 2,000 sheets of paper are used per day in a single school. Therefore, during a full school year of 160 days, a school will use over 320,000 sheets of paper per year. Environmental conflicts, such as deforestation and paper overuse, could potentially be improved or nearly resolved with a significant paper reduction in the nation’s school system. This demonstrates how a transition into digital work would benefit not only the education of students, but the planet as a whole.
Based on this information, what will the digital shift in the school system bring to modern day learning environments? As the educational system moves into the future, the traditional aspect of paper files is fading away while online resources take over as the primary materials and tools for students of all ages.