In today’s increasingly digital environment and with the shift towards the use of computers and tablets, you could be forgiven for underestimating the continuing prevalence of education with paper and the benefits it has to offer. However, paper-based learning is as effective as ever and remains popular with educational institutions that are committed to offering the best learning experience.
What is Paper-Based Learning?
Before we go any further, we need to understand the meaning of paper-based learning. Paper-based learning is simply learning where notes and information are taken and provided either primarily or solely on paper, as opposed to electronically. It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean that students will never learn about or use computers or other technology, just that the focus is on education with paper.
The Benefits of Education with Paper
Education with paper has plenty of benefits for both students and teachers, some of which directly relate to learning and retention and others that provide indirect benefits. Examining just a few of these benefits helps us take a clear view of paper‘s impact on learning.
Increased Information Retention
It has been proven multiple times that students have significantly higher retention levels when taking and reviewing notes with pen and paper rather than on a laptop or other electronic device. Higher retention levels mean not having to spend as much time trying to revise or relearn forgotten topics and higher exam scores, something which everyone can be happy about.
Less Risk of Distraction
When using a tablet, laptop, or other device, there’s always the temptation to check emails, scroll through social media, or play games. When education is paper-based, it removes these temptations from students, making it easier for them to focus on what they’re meant to be learning and encourages them to more actively engage with their teacher, the material, and, when appropriate, each other.
More Comparable to Exams
Even when schools, colleges, and universities try to move towards digital education, there’s no escaping the importance of paper in students’ lives, with examinations still frequently being done on paper. In higher levels of education, graded assignments are frequently done on paper as well, particularly in subjects such as mathematics, where correctly formatting formulas and equations on a computer could be as time-consuming as the work itself. If previous learning is primarily digital, these exams and assignments may feel jarring for students.
Although a small number of companies have gone completely paperless, this isn’t practical or desirable for the vast majority of them, meaning that almost all workplaces continue to use paper to some degree. As a result of this, using a combination of paper and digital technology throughout their education will provide students with a more realistic idea of what their work life will be like. It will also allow them to understand why paper is important in life and the continuing importance of paper in society as a whole.
Builds Comfort with Handwriting
Being able to write by hand, legibly and at a reasonable pace, remains an important skill but one that is often underdeveloped due to a lack of practice. Some schools try to fit handwriting lessons into their timetables, but this takes time away from the many other subjects which students have to learn and still doesn’t offer enough time. A far better option is to simply provide an education with paper, with taking notes and preparing assignments by hand providing plenty of practice.
For some people, the benefits listed above won’t be anything new since they’ve already embraced education with paper and have experienced them for themselves. For others, it will hopefully be a sign to do something different.
If you work in education and your methods are primarily digital, consider trying something different with your classes. If you’re hesitant about making a big shift towards paper-based methods, you can start to gradually incorporate it more and see the results for yourself.
If you’re a student (or a parent), you’re free to talk to your school, college, or university, but you’re unlikely to completely change the way things are done by yourself. What you can do, however, is to start incorporating paper into your own note-taking, revision, and, providing you’re allowed to do so, assignments.