2019-09-05 06:05:07

Why we need to reduce paper in school administration

Social impact
By Fiona Boyd
As Co-Founder and CEO of EdSmart, Fiona is passionate about using technology to empower relationships and a greater good, with a focus on helping educators, parents and students worldwide. She began her career as a radio broadcaster and was Co-Founder of ArtsHub, the leading online home for arts and cultural workers in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. She was featured in the book 50 Great eBusinesses and the Minds Behind Them (Random House 2007). Fiona is also a long-time runner and mother of three.

There are many reasons why schools should be taking their administrative workflows digital, and going paperless. We examine a few...

The paper debate is not new for schools. Passionate discourse often arises when it comes to the place of paper in education – are our children better off learning with or without paper? The discussion continues. But, while the use of paper in the classroom may still be a point of contention, the function of paper in today’s school administration is clear: it has to go.

I visited a school in India a few years ago. They were collapsing under the weight of their paperwork – literally. I walked into the administrator’s office to find her surrounded with skyscraper stacks of paper all around her. She was overwhelmed and exhausted by the volumes of paper that she needed to action and then file away.

Sadly, her example can be applied to many schools worldwide.

As noted in article sources on EdSurge, approximately 5,955,000 pieces of paper are consumed annually at every school in the US. Not only does this equate to a phenomenal cost (an average of US$30,000 to US$50,000 on paper alone for K-12 schools), this results in a mountain of physical paperwork, which needs to be double-handed, even triple-handed, and then stored somewhere for safe-keeping.

Businessman being depressed by accounting in his office

The thing that frustrated me when I saw this administrator in the Indian school was I could see all those forms cluttering her mind, lessening her productivity and, potentially, affecting her health. By taking her school administration digital, all of that physical (and, consequently, mental) clutter could be reduced – an out-of-sight-out-of-mind effect – and formerly manual workflows elegantly streamlined and stored in a digital cloud environment with only minimal human intervention required.

Not only that but many of the many additional tasks generated by the paperwork could be replaced by digital automation. For example, a permission slip not returned? The digital system will note the due date and then send a reminder to the parent, and complete it all much faster than a human being.

For many schools, the efficiency and staff happiness alone is worth the changeover from manual to digital or online school administration. For others, the impact on the environment is a strong motivating factor.

If we go back to our US example, those 5,955,000 pieces of paper consumed annually at every school is also the equivalent of 74 trees, which suggests a huge drain on our precious environment. By going fully digital in your school administration, you get to set a good educational example for your students when it comes to protecting the world’s natural resources.

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is for me to see schools crumbling under their paperwork when there is an easier and achievable solution available right now. With compliance and governance becoming even stricter, school paperwork will only increase, not decrease. A digital future is inevitable and, the sooner the transition is made, the better placed any individual school or school network will be.

I sometimes think of that administrator at the Indian school, and I think of everything she could offer her school that was currently being wasted on menial tasks. I hope she gets to read this article, and that she also gets the opportunity to reach her full potential and be the administrator her school needs her to be.

Need more evidence for why going digital helps schools? Try our Calculator.

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