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Paperless like a pro: How to organize yourself online to avoid paper pileups

Online classes can be a blessing, offering flexibility and convenience to students juggling work schedules and other obligations. Students returning to school are often surprised to find they don’t need binders, notebooks and heavy textbooks since everything is available online. However, you have to keep your digital life organized if you want to achieve online school success.



Benefits of paperless online classes

  • Paperless classrooms are environmentally friendly. The need for folders, physical textbooks, pencils, pens and other traditional classroom trappings is significantly reduced (or even eliminated) by online classes.
  • Going paperless cuts costs. Although technology can be expensive, you’ll discover that using a single device for your studies can save you money in the long run. The cost of traditional educational materials may not seem like much upfront, but it can quickly pile up.
  • Students can learn and work at their own pace. Within traditional classrooms, students are expected to absorb information at the same rate, even if the pace doesn’t meet their needs. Through online learning, you can breeze through topics you find easy and spend extra time on tricky concepts.
  • Paperless classrooms use up-to-date technology. This makes online students more digitally literate than their counterparts in traditional classrooms.

Start smart with effective systems

Students who are new to paperless classes often find it hard not to have paper copies of their syllabi, reading materials and assignments, but all these can be managed digitally when you keep things organized online.

Start on Day One by making a folder for each class on your computer and ensuring you download important things like the class syllabus and assignment instructions to place into the folders. That way, you won’t have to go online to check this information.

Organize your digital files

Every time you create or save a document on your computer, you’ll be creating a digital file. If these are not carefully organized and managed, they can be both difficult and annoying to locate, and the problems don’t stop there.

According to recent research, the chaos of a cluttered environment can restrict your ability to focus, as disorganized files will compete for your attention and reduce your mental resources.

While you’re at it, create a backup system by setting Microsoft Word to auto-save every few minutes so your hard work won’t digitally dissolve if the power goes out.

Store files in the cloud

With a service like Google Drive or Dropbox, you can access your files from anywhere and will have a backup if your computer crashes. Just like on a desktop or laptop computer, you should organize your cloud-based files with one folder for each class.

Use an online calendar to keep up with deadlines

Find a good online calendar that you can access via both your computer and your phone. Free choices such as Google Calendar, Zoho Calendar and 30 Boxes are all simple but powerful. Once you decide upon an online calendar, stick to it for the semester – if you use multiple calendars, an important assignment may fall through the cracks.

Speaking of due dates, be sure to add these to your online calendar on the day you receive your syllabus. It’s easy to put this off, but this is something you should do on the first day of class. As you enter each deadline, set reminders to keep yourself on track.

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