I like "technology." I really do. Like a lot of people, I have used/do use Twitter, blogs, web pages, listservs (remember those?), wikis, etc., in classes. For years I've graded papers that never saw a paper version but went from the student's screen to mine and back. I've assigned e-versions of texts. I've cursed at (but used) Blackboard, WebCt, and both homegrown and newer permutations of various CMS platforms.
But you know what? Sometimes paper just works better, and we ought to be able to acknowledge that.
Example: An upcoming conference is making the program available either in e-form or in paper form. I applaud the decision on a conceptual level, but it left me in a dilemma. Since I felt guilty ordering the paper form because of all the green rhetoric surrounding the choice, I ordered the e-version, but who am I kidding? I've tried getting .pdfs on a Blackberry screen, and even if the document doesn't fail to download and go into a holding pattern, which it does about 90% of the time, the print is too tiny to read.
What I'll probably do is print some pages before I go, but I'd really rather have a booklet so that I can mark the sessions in case I change my mind later. I won't know where I'm going at the conference, but at least I won't have a conference program that pegs me as a Despoiler of the Earth.
Example: In class, if a student does a presentation with a bibliography or questions written out, handing that out on a piece of paper allows the class to follow along. Telling them "go to the class wiki and comment there" doesn't have nearly the immediacy that I want for the discussion that's supposed to follow. And not everyone has a laptop/netbook/iPhone to be able to look at the presentation materials online, either. Paper's the logical choice here.
Example: I've noticed when reading double-spaced manuscripts or papers online, "page down" or the equivalent doesn't always drop you onto the next line from the one you're reading. I have to take a couple of seconds to find my place, which means my engagement with the ideas keeps getting interrupted. I've tried to compensate for this in various ways--making the font smaller, etc.--but the fact remains that it would be easier to read some of these things on paper, even though I don't always print them out.
One example of times when I don't want to print: Invitations to meetings (and I use the term loosely) now sometimes come with a raft of .pdf documents attached and an instruction to print them out before the meeting. Uh, no. That's not part of the deal. My home printer is not at your service. In these cases, I exercise my Thoreau-given right to civil disobedience and bring the laptop with me to the meeting with the documents loaded on it. There's no reason why I should subsidize the university's printing costs.
Another thing about administrators and technology: even though I like technology, it seems wrong to me that administrators are so dead keen on it that they care less about how it's used than if it's used. Faculty are now evaluated in part on whether they use technology or not (see The Chronicle for tsk-tsking about the sad sacks who don't), and I think it's because administrators are entranced by the shiny and in love with anything they can name and count. Good teaching = can't be counted except by student evals. Teaching with technology = something to count.
Back to paper. I guess what I'm trying to say is that there are all kinds of technologies that we can choose from, and we shouldn't shy away from paper if it's the best one.*
[*Edited because the former ending made it sound as though someone was forcing me not to use paper, and that's not what I meant.]