Whether we like it or not, the paperless classroom is a long way from reality, and arguably the most important piece of equipment in a school is the photocopier. It is so important that if you go to any Irish education conference, you’ll have nearly half a dozen “big” companies trying their nest to lure schools into 5 year contracts, with all sorts of offers.
Give or take a quirk or two, each company more or less does the same thing. However, you might have one company driving from Donegal to Cork to Galway sorting out a handful of schools in each county and you’ll have another similar company doing the same thing. It really makes no sense, environmentally.
Wouldn’t it be easier if every area of the country (defined by education centre geographic regions) were serviced by one (or two) companies? Not only would it be good for the environment, there are other interesting possibilities.
For example, the management of photocopying could be taken away from schools. Photocopying is a significant cost, both financially and time-wise. Both these could be taken out in one fell swoop as all photocopying could be managed centrally.
Other ideas could be helpful to the environment. Could schools be incentivised to use as little photocopying as possible and be rewarded for doing so? Could there be a paper-wastage league where schools could compete to be the least wasteful school in their area? Could schools be allocated a certain amount of “credit” and if they don’t hit this credit each month, they could be financially rewarded or they could carry them over for another month, etc.
There is obviously a risk that punitive measures might be used, which wouldn’t be great. For example, if a school went over their credit, they would have to pay for the excess use at a cost that would be out of their control. Would this then bring problems back to the principal of the school to manage this?
Any system would have to give a school some sort of admin rights to curtail spending. For example, let’s say a school got a 10,000 copy credit limit and it had 10 teachers. The school would need to be able to limit use so they would never go higher than the credit to avoid “fines”
There’s probably lots of scope here to extend this into other equipment such as telephones, ICT equipment, etc. but for now, this might be a decent starting space.