Use technology to go paperless

Published 2013-05-08T08:00:00Z”/>

opinion/columnists
opinion

Zachary Coyl

With the help of technology, students have more options to learn and gather information.

The future is here. And with laptops, tablets, smartphones and other devices, it’s now possible for students to go paperless.

Living paperless means carrying less crap around, being organized and getting on top of schoolwork.

Living without textbooks would be easy because they’re expensive and heavy. Cutting them out would help out your wallet and your back.

E-books can be bought online, usually for a lower price, and are easily read with numerous devices.

It’s easy to find free PDF versions of books online. Whether this is entirely legal depends on where you download them, but California legislation is in the works to legitimize free online texts for college students.

It’s not just students who are going paperless — classrooms are making the transition as well. More and more, teachers are making their lectures available online, which means less note-taking.

For the things you have to write down, try typing instead. Laptops, tablets and even smartphones make it easy to jot down notes. For the latter two, there are many handy apps to help remind you about appointments, deadlines and to-do lists to keep you organized.

Other applications allow you to scan and convert handouts and other loose papers into PDFs that can be read on all your screens. If you don’t feel like buying any of these apps, taking a picture with your phone can help next time your essay instructions end up crumpled and forgotten at the bottom of your backpack.

Being paperless is convenient, but sometimes it isn’t always possible. We’ve come a long way, but some of us aren’t there yet.

If you find yourself in a classroom with a tech-unfriendly policy, it’s best to talk to your professor.

Technology can help your grades, but it’s ultimately your instructors who give them out at the end of the semester. If devices are not allowed, I suggest printing the lectures and bringing them to class. If their lessons are not uploaded online, don’t forget to always bring a pen.

For those with enlightened professors, or with those who allow the use of electronics, I have one piece of advice: Get off Facebook.

Seriously — it ruins the class for the rest of us, people who are actually trying to take notes electronically or otherwise. It’s also distracting.

Technology is definitely a powerful thing in and out of the classroom, but it doesn’t help you if you’re not using it productively.

While it may sound like I frown upon Luddites and their kind, that is far from the truth.

I like to take a hybrid or balanced approach to being a paperless student.

I still bring some textbooks on days I only have a class or two because they’re lighter than my laptop. On my busier school days, I always bring a notebook and pen just in case.

It is key to recognize technology as a tool. Like any other tool, certain ones are more suitable for certain tasks. But more importantly, technology is there to help you, so use it.

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Zachary Coyl can be reached at

[email protected]

  1. Zachary Coyl