Coming Attractions

Author: William Meiners
Paperless class designed for more efficient, economic delivery

If time is money and money is time, then students taking next spring’s “Design of Temporary Structures” class should maximize both through this paperless course. Lecture notes, tests, quizzes, and homework will all be delivered electronically in the Web-based course which went “green” half a dozen years ago.

No Paper Chase: Bob McCulloch, here in front of such a structure on campus, designed a paperless class entitled the “Design of Temporary Structures.”

Bob McCulloch, research scientist and CEM continuing lecturer, designed and delivered the class in this format in 2004. “It is an efficient and productive way to deliver a course,” he says. “Students have the electronic lecture notes to upload when they arrive at class. They simply add their comments to them. We can cover a lot more material with this method.”

It’s a design-based course consisting of numerous design problems, McCulloch says. Students use tablets to show their calculations and solutions. McCulloch designed and developed the content as well, so there’s no textbook. He grades tests and quizzes and distributes them electronically, completing the paperless cycle.

Beyond the environmental green benefits, McCulloch says, is productivity improvement. “We talk about how to cut cost in higher education. In any organization, you cut cost by being more productive,” he says. “I think we’ve demonstrated that with this approach we can improve productivity at the basic interface between students and the instructor.”

What’s more, McCulloch says, once the content is in digital form, it can be “recycled” for continuing or professional education.