Going Paperless: The Wave of the Future?

Posted by Matt Berringer on July 3, 2012

By Dr. Ramiro Zuniga

Going paperless, is it really the wave of the future?

Well before you answer, you should know that the concept of a paperless environment goes back to the mid-1970s. I would argue however, that today we are much closer to making this a reality. I would also argue that schools are definitely embracing this concept.

As you may know, there are a several arguments for going paperless. In this posting, I will look at four of the most common arguments for going paperless and offer my opinion on whether the argument is credible.

Going Paperless . . . Equals Going Green

This is perhaps the most popular reason that people give for wanting to go paperless. This argument, however, is highly debatable. To go paperless, documents must be processed and stored on computers. Computers must be manufactured and the manufacturing process is anything but green. In addition, every computer emits carbon gases as they are being used.

Saves Money

Storing documents electronically can save money in toner cartridges, reams of paper, filing cabinets, and postage costs.

Increases Productivity

Managing electronic documents is certainly easier than managing files in filing cabinets so there is certainly time savings. And of course, electronic documents are easier to duplicate and share.

Saves Space

There is no doubt that this is true. Thousands more documents can be stored electronically than in traditional filing cabinets. I can attest to seeing offices that have maintained entire rooms dedicated to filing.

So given these reasons for going paperless, where do I stand?

I am all for going paperless; however, I must admit that I still print too many documents. I am sure that I am not alone in this. For me, it is easier to manage documents electronically. Of course, I ensure that I have proper backups of all my documents.

Many still feel that computer hardware is not reliable enough to fully commit to going paperless. After all, haven’t you had a computer crash? Others are kept from going completely paperless because their auditors want hard copy receipts, contracts, etc.

I would suggest that you can always buy external drives for your personal files. School districts can take advantage of cloud storage or backup and disaster recovery (BDRs) solutions. For those dealing with reluctant auditors, I would suggest probing and nudging to see what auditors will allow.

So, back to my initial question. Is going paperless the wave of the future? I say, “Yes.”

The future begins tomorrow, so go out and start going paperless. Well, at least, as much as you can.



Topics: technology, K-12, Sustainability