Category Archives: Education

National Library of Norway implements electronic document management system

In the United States, President Barack Obama signed a directive to require every federal agency to become a paperless office, but progress toward a paperless office greatly varies from one agency to another. On the other hand, in Norway, the national library has plans to implement its own digital initiative.

"[All} published content, in all media, [must] be deposited with the National Library of Norway," allowing citizens and individuals to access the database through a public cloud, the Atlantic reported. However, access is only limited to those who are in Norway, that will be determined with the user's IP address.

The National Library of Norway hopes this transition will be completed in the next 15 years, even allowing users to download non-copyrighted works from any time period to their computers and devices.

Switching from paperback books to an online database ensures that all Norwegian works will be preserved and readily available for research or recreational use.

Because the library is a public resource, it makes sense to operate from a public cloud. However, business owners can also benefit from this technology — private cloud platforms can increase overall efficiency, while increasing cyber security.

Cloud networks are a great way for employees to share work-related files with one another, without taking up hardware space downloading duplicate files. OptiDoc is an electronic document management solutions provider that can help keep these files up-to-date without losing documents.

What can a paperless office teach schools?

Every year, students carry bulky textbooks to and from school to complete school assignments. On average backpacks can weigh between 18 to 30 pounds, the New York Times reported, even though health experts have voiced that school materials should weigh no more than 10 to 20 percent of a child's weight.

"A heavy backpack is a strong contributor to low-back pain in children," Dr. Orly Avitzur of Consumer Reports told the Times.

As a way to alleviate physical stress to students, some schools have begun implementing their own version of a "paperless office," utilizing digital libraries instead of purchasing new versions of schoolbooks year after year.

In East Notthingham, Pennsylvania, students who attend Oxford Area High School will be able to access textbooks off an iPad, which weighs a little more than one pound. This tablet also decreases the likelihood a student will forget necessary materials because it is stored within the district's database.

During a time when books are updated annually, this digital alternative will allow students to learn the most up-to-date information.

"We want to put kids in a situation where they can learn more effectively, faster and it seemed like the parents want to meet us there and help their kids have a better educational experience," Oxford Area High principal Christopher Dormer told the Westchester Daily Local.

By next January, all students within the district will be able to use these tablets to take notes and complete homework assignments.

Over at the Archbishop Stepinac High school in White Plains, New York, all students are operating from iPads.

Stepinac's success story

To ensure that all materials would be available in the school's digital library, Stepinac High collaborated with Pearson Publishing, one of the largest textbook printing houses in the United States, according to USA Today.

Because Stepinac is a religion-affiliated school, school president Reverend Tom Collins had to reach out to multiple Catholic publishing companies to establish a contact that offered PDF downloads onto the tablet. On average, students spent $700 per year on school supplies, including textbooks.

Stepinac's switch also expedites work for teachers, who spend hours grading and creating lessons plans for the students. For example, one website can identify when a student repeats specific phrases or words and, shows examples on how to rewrite it, USA Today explained.

"There is so much here, you can go through it all day," English department chairman Nancy Bisogno added.

Companies can also benefit in the same way by adopting business process software. Instead of doing daily tasks by hand, programs can greatly cut down these processes.

Electronic document management saves Hong Kong university $500,000

Colleges and universities are large entities that can also benefit from electronic document management systems because they too, process many files on a daily basis among many departments. Since the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) began transitioning toward these solutions in 2011, the institution has already seen one-third of its investment returned, according to Future Gov. 

Beginning with the finance and human resources departments, the $1.5 million project will happen in three phases. The first portion of CityU's plan consists of scanning and archiving information on full-time faculty and their payroll records, and so far HR has completed more than 3,500 files while payroll transferred 3,000. CityU chose to implement the program in these offices first because together they manage information on more than 4,000 staff members. 

"When the documents were stored in hardcopy, a large amount of clerical effort is needed to photocopy and physically transfer documents from building to building, as well as sorting through pages and pages of document to tag them with post-it notes for review," Wy Wong, CityU's HR Executive Officer, told the source. "This workload is particularly serious during periods of annual review. "[W]e can now access employee information whenever needed at our desks without any delay."

Since the plan started in 2011, the university has already saved at least $500,000, about 30 percent of the organization's initial investment. The university's enterprise content management helped staffers increase information security and financial savings while reducing overall waste. Andy Chun, CityU's chief information officer, expects that production will be "six times or more" efficient than it was before.

"The value of instantaneous online search compared with manual sifting through piles and piles of paper documents cannot be overestimated," Chun added.

As CityU becomes more internationally recognized—it was recently ranked ninth among the world's young institutions—it will greatly benefit from a paperless office.

Stanford University: A document management program success

In Silicon Valley, where there are a plethora of tech startups, Stanford University has the necessary access to build connections with these businesses. As a research institution, it has established partnerships with medical teams from Kaiser Permanente to the world of health care information technology, according to Venture Beat. Now Stanford is working toward changing their electronic document management program.

Prior to the change, university finance director Katie Talamantez managed all their paperwork on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. Talamantez "found this introduced too many opportunities for errors and duplication and grew concerned after almost committing multimillion-dollar mistakes," the Venture Beat article stated. As a way to take control of the situation, the finance department invested in a cloud-based, paperless office solution.

After the department began implementing the documents onto the server, Talamantez saw the benefits of these technologies. She was able to tell other offices where they excessively spent resources—not letting staffers go past the organization's $250 million budget.

In fact, almost half the businesses in the United States see the advantages of use cloud computing and about 40 percent of them are implementing this type of platform into their daily operations, according to Forbes. However, their study showed that chief financial officers (CFOs) are the most unwilling staffers to make the switch.

If Talamantez, a fellow CFO, is able to manage a budget using cloud-based technologies, other businesses should feel confident in its capabilities. If files are properly secure with strong passwords and encryption, then senior staff should not worry as much.

Colleges holding out of paperless strategies despite benefits

The paperless office is making an impact on industries across the board. However, despite the benefits of streamlined production and information sharing, there are still companies that remain hold outs as they hesitate taking the leap to the next level.

In a guest column for the Information Daily, Mark Harvey, the U.K. sales manager for Capita's higher education division, spoke about the reasons why universities should go paperless.

Harvey cited a Capita survey that found 55 percent of colleges are still using paper-based processes to manage student applications. This is despite the fact that the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service has recommended that all universities should adopt online application by the end of 2014.

"To meet increasing expectations and to attract a high caliber of students from what could be a decreasing pool, commercially astute universities are focusing their attention towards enhancing the student experience," Harvey wrote. "Not to include online application processing as a way to improve the overall student experience would be a mistake, as it's a way for universities to claw back a degree of control, step up their service to students, and do more with less."

The article goes on to talk about different ways that this digital approach could help the university environment. Professors, for example, will find themselves with more time to focus on lesson plans and meeting with students by getting rid of paper forms in favor of electronic ones.

By partnering with a document scanning and record management service, any company can go a long way toward improving its operational efficiency and take a step into the future.

Middle school drama department goes paperless with digital playbills

"Footloose" is the story of the city kid that moves to a small town where dancing and rock music is banned. It began as a movie in 1984 starring Kevin Bacon and has gone on to spurn a remake in 2011 and several different versions of a stage show. One of those is being produced by Voorhees Middle School in New Jersey which is also rolling out a paperless approach to the productions.

In a recent Sun News article, drama club director Leta Strain spoke about the different ways that the drama department was able to save money by going green. They started using Unistrut – a reusable material – instead of lumber to create sets, repurposed as many costumes as possible and are using technology to cut back on paper spending.

"We are using technology to save energy and to save trees. We are considering electronic playbills," Strain told the news source.

She went on to say that for a typical year, 2,000 playbills are created with 100 bi-fold pages each. They use 50 sheets of paper per playbill. The new digital version was created with Apple's presentation program Keynote and will be projected on the screen at productions with scrolling advertisements. This version will also be available to anyone to download if they choose.

Strain said that they are also considering using Keynote as a way to digitally create backdrops for the shows instead of creating physical versions.

Eliminating paper is a simple move that is helping this middle school save money. This decision can also be done by any company as a way to save on spending, improve information sharing and increase productivity.

Philadelphia school going completely paperless

The one thing that would seem like a staple of the educational field would be the need for paper. From written assignments to tests to information sent home to keep parents informed, physical copies have always had a purpose. However, some school districts are tossing it all out to go paperless.

According to a recent NBC 10 Philadelphia report, the Jenkintown School District has fully embraced the cloud and gone completely digital both in the classroom and at home.

They have created a "Parent Portal," which allows parents to handle a number of different tasks. They are able to keep track of their child's grades in real-time, sign up for specific times for teacher conferences, find copies of every letter and announcement that would normally be sent home with students and have access to the school calendar. Administrators are also active on Twitter and Facebook with information about the upcoming events.

This technology is also being used in the classroom as part of the curriculum. By using Google Drive, students are able to easily work on papers and projects while at school and then continue the work at home.

"We're using it for everything from peer editing and reviewing of essays to science experiments, writing up your science report," Jim Cummins, the district's Director of Technology, told the news source. "A lot of teachers are actually grading, within the container of Google Apps so there's no paper. They're trying to go as paperless as possible."

To make sure the solution remains as paperless as possible, the school system should partner with a document scanning and management service to convert every past document into a digital form.

University of Iowa tosses out physical phone books

It is a stack of paper that we are all familiar with and has been delivered to our doorsteps for some time. However, it would seem that the age of the phone book has come and gone as the ability to look up phone numbers and company information can now be handled easily thanks to smartphones and wireless internet.

This is what is happening at the University of Iowa as school officials announced this week they are eliminating the physical phone directory, according to the campus newspaper The Daily Iowan. In preparation for the decision, the Office of Student Life is surveying deans and directors, asking if they use the physical directory. While responses are still being gathered, early indication is that usages is way down, with some saying they haven't used it in years.

This is all part of a larger plan to increase the recycling proficiency of the university, Liz Christiansen, the director of UI Office Sustainability told the news source. Currently, the college recycling efficiency rate is at 30 percent and by 2020, the school has a goal of 60 percent.

"We really need everybody to contribute to reducing our waste," Christiansen said. "[Going completely online with the UI directory] is a great step toward that. Students are getting comfortable online, and this is a great step."

Many professors have also gotten on board to help with this goal by providing readings, homework and other paperwork online.

While these are solid step into the digital realm, to go truly wireless, the school will need to add a document scanning and management system to ensure all paperwork that is currently in physical form is included in the transition.

Illinois school district continues ‘paperless’ education

Since being introduced in 2010, the iPad has altered the way several industries handle their daily operations. From business information sharing to photographer portfolios, the growing tablet market is reducing the use of paper, cutting costs and improving productivity. One field that has jumped on the “paperless” bandwagon is educational institutes.

According to a recent report in – the Illinois town’s local newspaper – School District 97 has taken another step towards creating a paperless classroom. In the system’s eight elementary schools, each class has received iPads that are worked into the curriculum. Superintendent Albert Roberts, who has retooled the use of technology for education since taking over in 2010, said that so far 200 iPads have been bought for the kindergartners.

“The real goal is to help them become excellent communicators and very literate; to be productive in the work that they do. We know kids are not going to be working everyday and every hour with technology, but to use it in a way that makes them engaged and to work collaboratively,” Roberts said.

The “paperless” model extends far beyond the classroom. The school system has set up a “digital backpack” which is a web-based feature on the districts website that houses links and PDFs with information that formerly would have been sent home with students in a big bundle of fliers and notices. Each teacher also has a web page with assignment information that can be accessed from anywhere.

The school board is onboard too. They have replaced their bulky board packets with an electronic “board book” that contains the agendas, minutes and links to reports for every meeting.

With the use of document scanning, the school system is able to transform the stacks of paper into a much easier-to-access digital form which ensures everyone is able to stay in the loop.