The idea of paperless classes is an interesting one. While I do see the benefits to it, I believe it would be a difficult task to implement right now in the grade level that I teach (5th grade). At this age, students are still just learning how to maneuver around the Internet – yes, some students have vast skills, but others have more limited skills and access. For this reason, going completely paperless is not something I would approach in my own classroom just yet, but taking small steps, by facilitating some learning activities paperlessly (by using blogs or wikis) might be a good first step at this grade level.
A paperless class changes the role of the teacher dramatically. Instead of just one teacher, there become many teachers as students rely on other resources for learning – such as sources on the Internet and other classmates. In a paperless class, the teacher is a facilitator, not a lecturer. This changes learning because students learn more by creating networks among each other. They learn through the ideas of other classmates and also through links to external content which can be brought into the paperless classroom from the web.
Paperless space would make it easier to build a learning network because all students would have an online presence. Unlike a face-to-face conversation which is gone as soon as it is spoken, typed comments online remain there for all to see. Students can refer back to conversations long after they’ve happened and easily contribute new ideas to past conversations based on new learning.