Lest we forget, distance education began with printed materials. We cannot overstate the importance of handouts, especially for off-campus students. Summaries or outlines of important text or verbal information presented in class, not already in the textbook or other course materials, such as a Web page, should be printed and distributed to students prior to their discussion in class.
It is particularly important for students to have their own copies of tables, figures, and other detailed visual information that you present in class. With advance planning, these materials can be duplicated and sold as coursepacks by the bookstore along with the text.
You can use technology to provide student handouts. You may wish to post all class materials on the Web (or learning management system, such as WebCT or BlackBoard) as PDF files or Word documents. Students could then download and print the documents prior to class. You also may wish to send the documents as attachments to e-mails. Be sure, however, that the document files are not overly large. Some e-mail providers do not allow large files to sent to their clients.
In addition to word processing programs, slides developed in PowerPoint (or similar presentation software) can be converted to paper handouts quite easily. in PowerPoint, select Print in the File menu. When the Print screen appears, go to Print What and select Handouts you have your choice of two, three, or six slides per page. Click in the box for Pure Black and White to remove extraneous graphic and color information from the slide. Then click on Print. If you have Adobe Acrobat installed, you can also make PDF files of the PowerPoint handouts. Instead of printing to a printer, choose the Acrobat PDF Writer as the "printer" and make a PDF.
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