See "No need to take notes — they'll be on the website" The Internet and Virtual Learning Environment may or may not radically change teaching, but the technology which has probably made most difference in the past fifty years has been cheap, on-site, duplicating copying and printing. Among other things, it has radically changed student expectations — and the more conversant teachers become with computers and printing, the higher the expectations get.

Handouts are an integral part of the teaching and learning system.

That is to say, they make a difference to other elements in the system: they are not neutral add-ons, because their very existence (or non-existence) has an effect on the process of the class.

So using handouts or not, and their form, is an act of class management, not simply of information-giving.

Design considerations

The design of handouts also sends a message to students about your approach to teaching: out-dated or scruffy handouts and third generation barely-legible photocopies are an insult to students when the technology is available to up-date them and produce pristine copies. At the other end of the scale, glossy and slick productions by some commercial training providers acquire a spurious authority, and often suggest that the trainer is a mere functionary rather than a professional who generates her own material.

Some kinds of handout and their peculiarities:

Experiment, and ask for reactions from students. Be specific in your questions, and they will not only realise that you want genuine answers, but also that you take seriously the development of your teaching. 

To reference this page copy and paste the text below:

Atherton J S (2013) Learning and Teaching; [On-line: UK] retrieved from

Original material by James Atherton: last up-dated overall 10 February 2013

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