Free The Ink

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Courtesy of FreeTheInk

Free The Ink needs your help! We are a student-led social movement, encouraging Lancaster University departments to adopt a paperless assignment system, whereby students would submit assignments and receive feedback and grades online. Our first mission is to encourage Lancaster University’s Sociology department to use existing technology and the Moodle system – used in departments that have already made the transition – to go paperless with assignments. Looking to the future, our primary goal is for Lancaster University to be completely paperless with UG assignments within the next 2 years.

Lancaster University has invested millions of pounds into ensuring campus is fitted out with the newest technology, to improve the efficiency and quality of day-to-day operations. Technologies including, smart whiteboards, ‘pull-printing’ and Moodle. Free The Ink is aware that not all departments are taking full advantage of the benefits these technologies offer and proposes a viable opportunity to change this. In 2016, Lancaster University played a major role in modernising the delivery of patient care by the NHS in Lancashire, by pioneering ‘Test Beds’, which harness new technology to create capacity within hospitals through supporting ‘frail and elderly and people living with long-term conditions and dementia to be cared for outside hospital with the intention of improving their outcomes.’ Lancaster University prides itself on their role in this, for its demonstration of advanced expertise and we believe this expertise and lead in external issues must also be pushed internally.  

The removal of hard copy assignments would increase office space available to staff and faculty members since the requirement to store essays can be kept online instead of being physically stowed away until collected by students. Currently, It has been highlighted by Free The Ink that the Sociology department is implementing a band-aid approach in order to reduce the amount of physical essays being stored; whereby until a certain quota of students who have picked up their essay has been met the grades will not be released onto the interactive transcript. However, we believe that this solution does not tackle the root of the issue. The LUMS Marketing department informed us that a key factor in them going paperless was storage and that this transition has made for a much happier department – with a greater amount of space and less student inquiries about grades, as they are free to access their feedback from the comfort of their own bed.

Failure is not an option for us. Without this change, the continuing demand for paper and ink will see Lancaster University add to the 105 trees it has destroyed since 2015 and thus continue to augment their role in atmospheric pollution. We need departments that have pioneered the transition to paperless assignments to lead the way to ensure our campus has a sustainable and brighter future.

The technology is available. The students want it. The staff are willing to tackle the change. So why has it not happened yet? Simply put: those who able to make the changes are comfortable with how things currently are. Free The Ink are not ready to put the risks to the environment or the benefits the students receive under the comfort of the minority.

You can find information about us, our movement and upcoming events on our Facebook (/freetheinkLU) and Twitter (@freetheink_lanc), and website https://freetheinklanc.wordpress.com/. We’d love to hear from you!