Growing pains: Switching from paper to technology

While adults are quick to complain about how this generation is “obsessed with technology”, it sometimes seems like they are the ones pushing it on us. With significant changes like the the switch to online midterms this year, it made me begin to wonder how much of school students actually prefer to be online, so I conducted a survey asking students about whether they would rather have certain parts of school to be online or on paper.  

The first question I asked was if students would rather take tests online or with a hardcopy and answer sheet. A strong 82.8% said they preferred testing to be done on paper, while only 17.2% favored online testing.

Many students are outraged by the switch to online testing this year. It is much easier to make mistakes online, such as accidentally clicking the wrong answer. Also, with subjects such as math, there is work that has to be done on paper. While we will get scrap paper, it would be easier to have the whole thing on paper instead of having to keep switching from the chromebook to read the problem, then to paper to solve the problem, then back to the chromebook to select the answer. Also, doing things online introduces new potential problems that students have no control over, such as a website crashing.

The second question had similar results. Since the addition of chromebooks, many teachers just put online versions of articles and notes on google classroom, so I asked if students prefered to read books, articles, and textbooks online or with a paper copy. 81.5% favored paper copies, while only 18.5% preferred online versions.

“It’s easier to do things like highlight and take notes in person…Writing [on paper] helps things stick in my brain,” explains senior Abbie Baitinger.

This is a good point, as studies show that students remember facts better when they write them by hand instead of type them.

However, some students do prefer most of school to be done digitally.

“I feel like online is more convenient and better for the environment,” points out senior Emily Wiley, “Everything is right there when you use online things like highlighting and notes…I don’t like writing.”

Wiley also brings up a good point, since completing assignments and reading notes online saves a lot of paper, and students can turn in assignments digitally without having to go through the trouble of printing.

Also, there are some aspects of school that the majority of students do prefer to be online. The last question I asked was whether students preferred to write essays online or on paper. This had opposite results than the other two questions: Only 10.3% would rather write them by had, while 89.7% would rather type them.

These are the results I expected from this question, since writing seems to be a lot more convenient online. It is much easier to edit papers that way, since it is possible to add, delete, and move words around without having to erase, and it keeps everything neat. Also, most people can type faster than they can write, so it is easier to type long papers.

While technology continues to improve and increase, it is easy to make more and more parts of school digital and assume that the majority of students prefer it that way. Technology definitely gives a lot of learning tools and can make some tasks much easier. However, some parts of school, such as reading and taking tests, are preferred by students to be left the old-fashioned way.