Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why Paperless?

Over the past few days, I've been enjoying (hah!) the drudgery of state-standardized testing--in Colorado, CSAP. Now, I'm not going to go on an in-depth attack of standardized tests, as that's been done enough times in the past. However, as I was sitting there, in my assigned seat, waiting for the hour-long testing session for a twenty-minute test to be over, I realized that this test was probably the most interaction with paper that I've had all year.

Although this sounds like something that would be done for me by the school, I wouldn't say that it is. I've been making a conscious choice throughout the year to use Google Docs for essays and Evernote for notes whenever possible. Sure, it's great that we have that technology and those capabilities, but what good are they really doing me?

I'm tempted to argue that they help me because, with their aid, my writing is miraculously legible, but this doesn't help on CSAPs or AP tests where the entire body of the test is handwritten. (For that matter, my hand--despite my influx of piano recitals--was noticeably sorer this year!)

Do they help me learn? In a class such as Biology1, I would say that it does. Here, the teacher expects me to use the technology in a way that will be beneficial to my learning, and because of that, it is successful. I can type up posts on this blog (sometimes school related, sometimes not), but regardless, I can use the MacBook to facilitate learning.

But then, what about another class? In my English class, for example, I have spent way too much time trying to make Google Docs work with Opera (I'm an Opera user at heart) which simply provides another distraction for my hyperactive brain. Of course, if I simply used a normal browser, I could then not have to worry about this...but where's the fun in that?

However, there are clearly advantages to having it around. Being able to sync to the cloud through some service, Opera-compatible or not, allows me to work on my projects if/when I don't get them done in class. Of course, you could look at this the other way, arguing that this capability relieves the pressure on me as a student to focus and do this work in class.

I have a confession to make: My brain doesn't see solutions. It sees problems. This has caused strife on every committee I've ever been on, and it's probably something I should work on. In case you haven't noticed already, this means that often I'll be typing along, all is going well, and I get to the part of my post where I should either answer my original question or provide a fix for the problem I've identified, and you get: nada. That's going to happen again here, because I don't know the answer to "What good does technology do me as a student?" However, if you'd like to ask questions in the comments, then I can probably answer those questions, and we might actually get somewhere.


I hesitate to link to this post, because it was thrown around on Twitter back in September, and since then, it is STILL by far my most popular post. I don't really like it because of that.

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