Environmental benefits of paperless grading & other paperless classroom ideas

Professors who use electronic submission of assignments and other paperless classroom ideas

Professors who use electronic submission of assignments and other paperless classroom ideas

Increasingly students submit asssignments and papers electronically through systems such as Moodle, Backboard or Desire2Learn. Unfortunately if teachers is not provided with software to effectively implement paperless grading and other paperless classroom ideas they are often forced to print these assignments for grading or marking. Printing, managing, storing, and returning such “single use” documents is a significant drain on the institution’s as well as the earth’s resources.

Professors who print electronically submitted assignments

Professors who print electronically submitted assignments

A recent study from Planet Blue Sustainable Computing at the University of Michigan found that while 80% of professors use electronic assignment submission, only 21% of these never print the assignment and do paperless grading.  So much for the reality of implementing paperless classroom ideas!

The Digital Union of the Ohio State University calculated that in the case of 15 students submitting a 2 page journal that took about 8 minutes to mark, the difference in electricity usage between printing vs paperless grading would be as follows:

  • Paper based grading:  It would take 1,800 watt-hours (1.8 kWh) of energy to produce 30 sheets of paper to print the assignments.
  • Paperless grading:  It would take 316 watt-hours (0.316 kWh) to run an average computer continuously for 2 hours to grade electronically.

Of course, implementing paperless grading and other paperless classroom ideas has many environmental benefits e.g. reducing the need for storing, managing, and returning the marked paper (often by post in online or open or distance classes).

In addition to reducing the need to print assignments, eMarking Assistant also greatly reduces the time needed to mark assignments and increases the quality and consistency of feedback resulting in increased student satisfaction.

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