It'll be a familiar memory for many people – the professor handing out a stack of evaluation sheets and asking the school-weary students to stay an extra ten minutes to fill out this final judgment of the course. This is what students at one New York school had gotten used to until the college switched over to online course assessments.
This year students at St. Johns Fisher College, near Rochester, New York, received their course evaluations via email, according to the Cardinal Courier. The assessments will be filled out by each student on his or her time, before being published online. The school is making the switch as the notion that has been floating around for so long – that of completely leaving paper behind – is gaining steam in an increasingly digitized environment.
"Students are more willing to spend time either on a computer or mobile device writing an answer to an open-ended question when they're doing it at the time that's convenient to them," Kate Sabourin, educational technologist at Fisher, according to the publication. "Rather than at the end of class trying to scribble in as many answers as you can so you can get to the next class or be done with classes."
And according to some students at least, Sabourin is correct in the belief that students prefer the time outside of class to complete evaluations. Chris Genrich, a senior at the school and president of Student Government Association, explained to the Cardinal Courier that now students aren't wasting time in class. Now students can actually think about the evaluation forms, instead of rushing through them in order to get to their next class.
Paperless is catching on at schools everywhere
A number of people at schools not just across the country, but around the world, have been thinking along similar lines. Document storage solutions, and other tools used to go paperless, have been catching on all over. When Elaine Haddy started at the University of Iowa nearly 50 years ago, in what is now the human resources department, she and her colleagues were a few years away from getting their first computer, according to the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Now, as Haddy leaves the school, the department has employed paperless record-keeping.
Haddy was a cog in the machine that got the paperless initiative going at the University of Iowa's human resources department more than two decades ago, the publication explained. First with a human resources information database system in 1999, and then a paperless, online workflow system for business process automation three years later.
Even oceans away, in India, the idea of paperless is catching on. At Mount Carmel College, business management students recently took a two-hour-long paperless exam, according to the New Indian Express. Students found taking a test electronically to be a simpler, and neater process, than with paper and pen.
Now students at Fisher will experience the benefits that those at MCC, as well as the human resources department at the University of Iowa, have already enjoyed, with the switch to paperless course evaluations. The online assessments will make for a quick turnaround time. Hopes are that they are completed by Dec. 22, so that the recommendations can be implemented in the courses for the following semester.
Students are able to access the evaluation forms through either an online content management system or a separate mobile app. When students log into the system, they will be reminded to finish the assessment via a pop-up window, each time they log in until the form is completed.
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