I admit it; by no means am I the savviest texter in the world. I don’t know all of the acronyms or short cuts commonly used in the social media communication world. I’m not, however, unfamiliar with the party acronym BYO (Bring Your Own) that proceeded the technology era. But when my oldest daughter, starting sixth grade, came home from school this week talking about a new BYOT school program, I was a little stumped.
BYOT = Bring your own technology. A new phrase adopted by the school system that encourages students to bring their own tech devices to school. In addition to traditional devices like calculators, some schools are now allowing students to use their handheld devices (minus the phone) and laptops for daily classroom use and research. Cool…I guess, but does that mean they are going paperless? Not quite.
You might expect with all the hype surrounding the new technology program that the take-home paper folder might get thinner, I mean more computers means less paper, right? Ironically, It appears to me that more paperwork than ever is coming home with my kids, and not just their homework but the parents assignments. More paperwork to fill out, more instruction forms, more permission slips, and more contracts that parents and students need to sign promising that the student will use the technology appropriately. Granted a large portion of these are mostly early school year forms, but notice these aren’t on-line forms. And if you think for a second that students are using less paper in the classroom, just take a look any student’s back-to-school supply list – just as long a list as I remember so many years ago. In addition to all the take-home paperwork used by the school and teachers to communicate with parents, I also receive daily emails communicating daily activities, assignments and upcoming events. So there is ample activity in both the paper and paperless arena.
Rather than seeing paper and technology as opposing resources, it has become more apparent to me that they are complementary to one another. With the increased use of handheld devices and computers to communicate with one another also comes the need to preserve the most important of those documents on paper. The two have almost helped define the importance of the other, by doing what each does best. Tech devices are quick and immediate, perfect for research and ideal for instant communication. Paper, on the other hand, is tangible. It’s ideal for documentation, signature, and filing for reference. It carries with it a degree of importance that you don’t get via a computer. It says “Look at me, I’m here!”
In 20 years who knows what the next BYO might be. As quick as things change, my children’s children may poke fun at the fact that their parents had to haul a bulky 1 1/2 pound handheld device (read: cassette tape), or even worse a laptop (read: 8 track) to school.