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.


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