Cutting out paper – change printer defaults

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Cutting Out Paper icon

Continuing the month’s worth of ideas to support a New Year Resolution to cut paper use in education…
In some schools it’s the students that use too much paper. They’re doing a project, and then they want to print out a draft of their work (or even a draft of the first paragraph of their work), to see what it will look like. And if they are doing a long-term project, they print out a copy every week to see how they are going. Cutting this out (or reducing it significantly) will make a big difference.

Change the default printer on student laptops to not be a printer

So how about letting your students print, but instead of printing onto paper they print onto an electronic document, either as a PDF, XPS or a OneNote document – so they still see the ‘finished’ work, and they can even keep an archive of each stage of the process without stacks of paper. This is especially useful where a student is creating digital work that’s going to be assessed.

  • If your students print to a OneNote document, then it’ll automatically put it into their OneNote document set, and will store it along with all of their other work, revision notes etc. And add a new set of pages next time they print it.
  • If they print to a PDF or XPS document, they could then store this on their own eportfolio, or their SharePoint MySite, USB stick, laptop or network drive.

In the UK, at Bristnall Hall Technology College in Sandwell, ICT and Network Manager Phillip Wakeman forecast a saving of £25,000 from posting documents on SharePoint, and he has his eye particularly on the printing demands made by ICT exam students.

  Students doing ICT coursework habitually print off the whole lot – and it could be 200 pages for each student – a few times each year. With 200 students in each year group, the amount of printing is enormous.  

The first step for this is to change the default printer for your users.

  • Print to XPS (a format that locks the file, and allows you to see if any editing has subsequently happened) is standard within Windows 7
  • Print to OneNote is available when you have Office 2007 or 2010 installed
  • Print to PDF needs an extra driver or software application (although ‘Save as PDF is built into Office 2010)

Read more ideas to help cut out paper

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