As someone who cares for our environment, I am faced with a dilemma daily. I cringe every time a student writes two words on a page and then rips it up. I feel guilty with every photocopy. And while I appreciate the convenience of the 1to1 computer roll out that came with the ‘Education Revolution’, I am concerned about the energy consumption, maintenance and waste.
This got me thinking… which is actually better? Paper or the computer? Typed or handwritten?
- Hardware waste with new technologies- go to any tip and see for yourself
- The amount of electricity to run a computer for only five months could produce enough paper for the average person to use for an entire year (http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/06/25/ip-says-paper-is-greener-than-computers/ or http://www.finsbury.com.au/NewsDetail.aspx?p=15&id=64)
- Increased demand for technology= increased demand for electricity (http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2010/03/is-digital-media-worse-for-the-environment-than-print090.html)
- We also need to consider where and how paper is made. Recycled paper or eco-friendly paper sourced from sustainable forests will be more environmentally friendly than other paper sources.
- Reading from digital copies often leads to reduced reading speeds and accuracy may be lessened for cognitively demanding tasks according to a University of Texas study (http://www.ischool.utexas.edu/~adillon/Journals/Paper%20vs%20screens.htm). Fears of increased visual fatigue and reduced levels of comprehension as a result of reading from digital copies would however seem unfounded. With respect to reader preference, top quality hardcopy seems to be preferred to screen displays, which is not altogether surprising.
- Hand-writing helps develop fine motor skills but it is also the way that students are expected to complete exams.
- Every computer, phone and most electronic devices are contributing to the conflict in the Congo. The ‘conflict’ minerals used to create the processors in our laptops are contributing to the continued conflict in the region including rape, torture, murder, mutilation, child labour and other human rights atrocities as rebels and gangs seek to control the trade (http://www.theroot.com/views/your-computer-killing-congo & http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/27/opinion/27kristof.html).
- While research appears relatively inconclusive (like that of mobile phones), I am concerned about the impact of wifi signals in every classroom and the health risks of having laptops on laps.
- Traditional- encouraging students to use ‘old’ skills.
- Easier to monitor student book work versus computer use- helps student avoid distraction.
- Paper records can deteriorate over time, become lost or damaged.
- Trees lock up carbon- plantations are actually helping reduce/capture CO2, while the creation of technology and the energy using technology use is using it.
- Computers allow the user to create many changes to documents, whereas people often throw out paper with mistakes on it when handwritten.
- Computers are convenient- one computer vs a whole locker of books
- Virtual copies can be shared quickly and easily compared with the paper waste (photocopies, envelopes, stamps) and petrol waste that happens with snail mail.
- Modern- teaching students to use tools of the future and jobs of the future.
- Increased learning opportunities- collaboration and global communication opportunities- more potential than paper.
- Risk of technical problems that can result in work loss (virus, hardware and software issues)
What do you think? Conflicting messages? Will this impact your classroom practice?