Classroom handouts / Earth Day 2010

I once was a collector of handouts for training and conference sessions – massive piles of the stuff organized by the event, job or subject. I even had stuff from my Master’s thesis in file cabinets, never touched over multiple decades. Sadly in hoarding, I never referenced or used those “assets.” I have since recycled what seemed like metric tons of old handouts. Today, I prefer to make notes in a composition book and use downloaded or online presentation materials. These assets are used, better organized and valued.

Last conference I attended was “green,” meaning limited paper material for us to tote, handouts were online. Still I heard grumbling about no physical handouts even though the conference provided free and ubiquitous WiFi. Looking at the crowd, many we’re my age. Old habits are so hard to break.

When I present or design a course, I think about the handout issue. Is there a better way than just sending reams through the printer? Should the supporting content be online? Should there be only limited material that is strategically chosen? Should we ask the learner about their preference?

In Sunday’s NYT supplement EducationLife (yes, we receive and read a physical newspaper daily, old habits), I found an interesting story on debate teams moving from tubs of paper to laptop-based storage and the resulting debate culture change. It’s a journey.

Happy Earth Day and consider the environment when printing not only personally but for learning as well.

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One Response to Classroom handouts / Earth Day 2010

  1. Kenan Branam says:

    Ah, yes! Put me on your short list of old-timers who actually HATE print outs. It's not just about saving trees but about information accessibility. Of course, like yourself, I have a life-long career in electronic media (video, etc. and now the Web). Like you, I do some training and other presentations. Even in the analog video days, I had to deal with hundreds of hours of scene logging so I was into database management. But, in those days of linear video programs, it was all about "puting it together." Now, it's about "taking it apart" or "parsing" it. Yea, I'm into the semantic Web (Tim Berners-Lee) and the global brain. I wake up at night thinking about the ontology of The Theory of Everything. Sympathy for me?Maybe we could talk about that?

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