We live in a time where we are constantly hearing about the effects of global warming. Even as certain governments claim it to be a hoax, or fake news, we can’t escape the signs that we are deeply affecting the planet. As recently as this week, European parliament has banned all single use plastics with the aim of wiping them out entirely in the next decade.
We’re inundated with adverts for water bottles that can keep your drinks ice cold for hours, for collapsible coffee cups we can use for the morning commute, for alternatives to throw-away culture. Yet many of us are still toting home a backpack full of paper from university lectures and seminars. My question is this: why?
Why aren’t the lecturers making more use of online resources, such as Moodle? Every week I am given a handout in my lectures, or something to read, or am asked to print out my work for peer reviewing. Then, when I get home I have a bag full of paper and a guilty streak a mile long as I acknowledge it will just sit in my room for a few weeks before I recycle it.
If I’m honest, I don’t understand why teachers and lecturers aren’t making more use of Moodle. We already upload our work there now that the university has switched to TurnItIn, so why am I still expected to waste money every week printing out a piece of work I’m likely not even going to submit? And why can’t all reading for the lectures be put up on Moodle? I understand that some people like to print out the reading, and that’s their choice, but my choice would be to have all the reading for the lectures on my tablet. That way, if I ever want to refer back to it, I just find it in the ‘Books’ app, rather than leafing through piles of paper.
I understand it isn’t easy, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve made a handout for an upcoming presentation I have to do. But I’m also searching for ways to have it accessible online to minimise how many copies I need to print out. With online resources such as Google Docs, or Dropbox, why are we not using these methods to share our work for peer reviewing in seminars? Why isn’t this method being used for reading materials? A lot of students use their laptops during lectures now, and I know that it frustrates lecturers to see them playing games or surfing the internet instead of paying attention, but they could also tap into that opportunity a lot more.
I’m not saying that we should immediately ban all paper from all lectures and seminars. Just as with coffee shops urging people to bring their own cups, it would be a work in progress. But if there was a way to share work or source materials online for lectures, then why not give it a go? We can still have paper copies to hand out for people who don’t have a laptop or tablet, but it would minimise the amount of paper the university is wasting.
It wouldn’t be an easy task to initiate, and it would certainly take a while for everyone to get used to it. But just as with paper registers being discarded for card readers at the door, this is surely a method everyone could adapt to.
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