Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ideas for Helping Administrators and All Educators Move to Being Paperless

I have completely given up the habit of taking a pad of paper and a pen into meetings any more. Just about everything I do now is electronically, and I as a school administrator, I’m becoming ever closer to being paperless in the day to day activities of my job. The technology gadget trio of my laptop, iPad, and Android phone have had much to do with my being able to go paperless.  If I were going to make recommendations for apps on these three devices, here are my current favorites. When I say favorites, that means I access them frequently throughout the day.

Desktop/Computer apps

  • Dropbox: There is not a single day that goes by that I do not access my dropbox on multiple occasions. I save all my work documents in my dropbox folder, so that I have that immediate access with multiple devices and with multiple computers. Also, sharing folders and files is so easy with this application. I haven’t pulled out a flashdrive in months. This application literally makes being paperless possible for administrators and all educators as well as students. (Drop information available here.)
  • Evernote:  I have posted on this application alone several times. I can’t say enough about this one. I use it for my daily to do lists and for taking notes during the large number of meetings I attend. With the desktop application on both my laptops, those notes are always synced between my computers (Note: I have been experimenting with Springpad, another note taking application. It shows as much promise as Evernote with some features.) (Evernote information and download available here.)
  • NOOKStudy:  This amazing application is available as a free download from Barnes and Noble. It is an excellent e-reader tool for individuals like myself who like to make notes and have access to multiple books at one time. I am the kind of reader who reads four or five books at once, and NOOKStudy for the desktop opens multiple books with tabs so that I can flip from one book to the next like I do in real life.
  • Google Docs: There is also rarely a day that goes by that I do not access Google Docs in some manner as well. The ease with which documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and forms can be created is so simple. Being able to access those documents with other devices is also a plus.

Ipad Applications

  • Dropbox:  This application allows me to access my Dropbox files on my iPad. I use DocsToGo in combination with Dropbox in order to open any Microsoft Office files of Open Office files. I can also read any PDF files I have placed in my Dropbox during those times between meetings. Dropbox is a must have application on my iPad.
  • Evernote:  I never take a pad of paper or pen into meetings any more or during teacher observations. I use Evernote’s iPad application to take notes in both meetings and during those classroom visits. My iPad has literally replaced the old legal pad I used to carry around. I don’t even have a legal pad in my desk any more.
  • NOOK for iPad:  I have the NOOK application installed on my iPad too. I have purchased several E-Books from Barnes and Noble in recent months. I have always carried a book around for those down moments when I might have a chance to read. Having NOOK on my iPad gives me the ability to crack a book any time without having to carry the book around with me. (As a side note, I also have Kindle, iBooks, and another app called Free Books installed on my iPad. I have books in all those applications too. I only wish there were a desktop application for iBooks and the Free Books application.)
  • GoDocs for iPad:  I recently purchased an app for the iPad called GoDocs that allows me to access and edit Google Docs files. It is especially easy to use for accessing and reading Google Docs files. So far, it allows me to read any of my Google Docs easily, and I can edit existing Google Docs too. Right now it has proven to be the best option for Google Docs applications.

Android applications

  • Dropbox:  I have this application installed on my Droid phone too. This gives me another layer of access to my Dropbox documents. The application, Quickoffice, allows me to open and read Office Documents and PDF documents. There have been a few times I’ve needed access to documents in my Dropbox when I had no desktop or iPad access.
  • Evernote:  I have the Evernote application installed on my Droid phone too. Just like the iPad application, I can read any notes I’ve placed in the application. I can also create new notes for those times when I do not happen to have my iPad or laptop handy.
  • NOOK for Android:  I also have the NOOK software installed in my Droid as well. I can access the books I’ve purchased from Barnes and Noble through my phone too. There have been a few times when I’ve been waiting for an appointment, and I’ve pulled out my Droid phone and read a few pages from an E-Book I was reading.
  • If you notice, I do not have an Android application listed for Google Docs access yet. Perhaps someone out there has a workable solution. I haven’t found a suitable application for access to my Google Docs with the Android yet.

I have truly found myself using less and less paper during the course of the day. Having access to all of these applications on multiple devices continue to make it possible for me to rely less and less on physical, paper copies. What are your favorite applications that allow you to do your job without using paper? Please feel free to share.


  1. Great list. Here is another blog about going paperless that is about managing meeting agendas (board and staff) using web-based tools. There is an iPad app for it as well.

    Here's the blog.

    Here's the app on iTunes.

  2. Doesn't Android allow editable access to Google Docs through the browser natively?

  3. Hello J.Robinson,
    This is a very good list for administrators. I would be interested to know how you standardize your teacher observations with Evernote. I ask because I hear so many professionals using tools that though may work in the short term do little to standardize and formalize the process. Have a wonderful week!
    Warm Regards,

    Rod Berger, PsyD
    Twitter: DrBergerATRANDA

  4. As far as being able to access Google Docs through the Android browser, I haven't tried to do that. I'll look into it. I also should clarify how I use Evernote in teacher observation process. It is the software I use for raw notes I take during observations. I do not use it for the actual observation. I should have made that clearer. My apologies.

  5. I believe your blog is excellent, I like the way you organized your work...Thanks for the list...

  6. Thank you. I really appreciate the compliment.