Wilson shifts to paperless classwork

August Taylor and Molly Reeder

In late 2018 and early 2019, a plan to use less paper in day-to-day schoolwork was established to work towards paperless classes. The original plan was to introduce students to using laptops, year by year, until everyone in the school would have a laptop at the end of three years. But when the virus hit, all those plans went out the window.

The main reason for “going paperless” is a financial one.

“[In 2019, Wilson] was going through [approximately] 375,000 sheets of paper a month, and paper is expensive,” Instructional Coach David Thompson said.

In the old plan, student’s would have been transferred to personal computers that would become required in every class. Online tools like Canvas and Delta Math would be used in almost every assignment, just like the way we learn in school now.

However the switch they were planning, the switch we made, would have been much more difficult without the interference of the pandemic. In the last two years, Wilson teachers have had to adjust very quickly to several different teaching methods. 

The shift to virtual learning required brainstorming for a fully on-screen school schedule. With the return to in-person learning, DCPS realized that most of the students and teachers were already equipped to do most of their work on their computers. COVID also accelerated the funding of the devices; the funding itself came from federal and DC grant money.  

 Paperless teaching allows teachers to be more flexible with their lesson plans.

 With students guaranteed a device from the school, teachers can make assignments digitally or on paper.  

“Before COVID, we were almost 100% paper because you couldn’t count on students having devices that would work,” science teacher Dani Moore said. The biggest challenge Moore and other teachers have had with technology this year is the variation in devices students have and the different limitations that come with those devices.

Though for some students, completing work virtually has been difficult. “Being thrown into complete online learning in less than a year can be very difficult for some students,” sophomore Annabel Rooney noted. “I think more teachers should be giving options to students struggling with digital learning because it is such a new concept.”

Moore added that not all students are acquainted with Wilson’s online programs. “Some students are not as familiar with the technology as others. It can be a four minute ordeal to pull up Canvas, so getting people to the point where we can all be slick and savvy with it is something we can do, but it’s something we are working on right now.” •