Full use of Blackboard should help conserve paper


Nick Sestanovich

Blackboard Learn, the virtual educational platform, is hardly a new technology at Chico State. It’s been in use since 1998 if you count its incarnation as WebCT, but it definitely has reshaped education for the better.
Students can check grades, talk to instructors outside of the classroom and even submit certain assignments online. It’s hard for me to imagine what college was like before.
However, not every professor seems to have taken full advantage of Blackboard. There are still some classes I’ve taken where I have to print up one page responses and bring them in, rather than just posting them on Blackboard. Every time this happens, I ask myself: “Why?” Posting short responses on Blackboard seems like the far more efficient method.
In the digital era, there is no reason to print up assignments that take up one page or less. It’s just a waste of money.
It’s not the environmental aspect I’m primarily concerned with, although that is one of my reasons. According to Claudia Thompson’s book Recycled Papers: The Essential Guide, it takes an average of 24 trees to produce one ton of paper, which is too much if students are just going to print up three to four sentences. However, my objection to printing up one sheet of paper has more to do with the fact that printing is expensive.
It doesn’t matter if you have your own printer or just use the ones at Meriam Library, you’re always going to pay to print. A new Hewlett-Packard ink cartridge costs about $22 and to refill it at Costco costs about $8 at the cheapest, according to PC World.
To print up at Meriam Library is just 10 cents a page, which is by far the cheapest option. Still, I shouldn’t have to worry about printer expenses on top of money for food, rent, utilities and other things, so just posting short assignments to Blackboard for free should make things easier.
I’m aware professors wouldn’t like to stare at long essays on a monitor for several hours and it’s easier to make markings on a sheet of paper. That’s understandable, but they should save the printed assignments for longer papers. I know that would technically be more expensive, but a few multi-paged papers in one semester is better use of paper than having students print up a response that takes up less than a page. All of those assignments should be assigned through Blackboard.
We’re living in an era of vast technological breakthroughs. Professors need to make the most of it.

Nick Sestanovich can be reached at [email protected].