Do You Have a Handout for That?

I recently spoke at a conference where the anticipated attendance was 16,000. There were 30 laptops set up with 60 seats and then overflow seating for another 40 people. I gave 5 presentations over 2 days. I didn’t know before I got there how many people I was going to see and now that I’m home, I still don’t know. But I can tell you that at least 10 people asked me if I had a handout I could give them. There were also many attendees that commented about it. I was grateful to see this Tweet from NJ educator Brian McLaughlin.


I think sometimes as educators, we are accustomed to getting everything on paper. But what really happens to it? We stick it in a folder, we throw it away, or it gets lost in a an ever-growing pile of papers collecting on our desk.

Here are some tools that I’ve been using and have seem some other educators use to share information and resources during presentations and professional development sessions:

Google Docs
Click on Share — Publish as Webpage and Google Docs will assign you a unique public URL (link) for your document. You still will be the only one that has rights to edit your Google Doc, unless you invite Collaborators, but you can use this feature to share a digital agenda, list of links, or anything that you would have printed out in the past. Here’s a sample…
On Scribd, you can upload a Word or PDF file and they will convert it into a web document. This way your attendees have access to it on their computers. All you have to do is share the URL  with them. Here’s a sample…

Wikis will allow you to embed more than one type of content on them. Like I did for my presentations at the NJEA Convention, I included links to websites, embedded videos and gadgets to PollEverywhere and Slideshare. These are pieces of information you really can’t print out. Here’s a sample…

Glogster advertises itself as “a creative, dynamic, and innovative digital outlet that captures learner’s excitement for online creations, keeps learners engaged in course content, and makes teaching and learning more fun.” This is great, but to summarize, it allows us to provide our attendees (whether they are students or educators) with a digital resource rather than a printed one. Here’s a sample…

Wallwisher defines itself as a “web page where people actually post messages.” The great part about this is that you don’t need an account with Wallwisher in order to post a note on a Wall. So you can have the folks in your session contribute ideas or links to the wall and then save the URL to refer back to. There’s no need to print out anything during the workshop and run and go make copies as they’ll always have access to the information. Here’s a sample…

Do you have any tools you are using with your students or in professional development to eliminate unnecessary handouts and to increase productivity? Please share them!

10 thoughts on “Do You Have a Handout for That?

  1. Barbara says:

    Great list and examples. Even though I knew the applications I appreciated the examples of their use for handouts. Plus this was just what I needed before I present next weekend.

  2. Chris Hyde says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Lisa. I stopped providing handouts at district PD sessions last year. I did this mainly because what happens is exactly what you said…they just end up in a folder, desk, or computer bag never to be accessed again. If people really want the resource they’ll get it if you provide it for them. Are we really attending “21st Century” PD events and asking for paper? I definitely plan on checking out a couple of your resources to use in some future presentations. Keep up the good work. 🙂

  3. Anthony D says:

    I find this truly amusing, but not unexpected at least at NJEA many are probably not very tech-savvy so they wouldn’t know how to go to a wiki, or website for their resources. I visited NECC this year as well as several other conferences and its amazing the amount of paper from hand-outs to catalogs from vendors. I mean I need a suitcase to hold all my handouts!!! I guess as technologists we have more work to do as far as educating people on technology, wikis, websites, etc. and just how to get what you need from the web.

    1. Great post, Lisa, and great comments.

      One of the things we will do differently next year is have PROMINENT signage pointing people to the High Tech Hall wiki, which although it existed for months beforehand, we didn’t think about creating a MooURL for it ( until Lisa made the suggestion … it was hilarious (and a little sad) watching people scribble down URLs furiously as presenters (not just Lisa) spoke. We’ve got some work to do but we’ll get there!

      One thing we also need to remember is that while *WE* naturally gravitate to things like wikis and URLs, many (most?) of those who we were teaching this week *DO NOT*. And so, differentiation dictates that we at least recognize those learning differences and be prepared to bring those people along somehow. Perhaps a blended approach? A single, 5×7 or 3×5 index card with the wiki address and other pertinent info?

      What do you think?


      p.s. congrats again Lisa on an awesome job at the convention and for this neat follow up article: – sweet!

  4. Barbara and Chris – Thanks and if you come across other resources that help, please share them too!

    Anthony – Baby steps, right? I actually typed the address in huge letters on five different huge screens so that everyone would have the address of where to access the resources.

    We can try, right?

    I’ve also given out business cards, using but again I would not have been able to predict how many to order for a convention of this magnitude.

    Thank you all for your comments.

  5. I consistently bump into this issue when presenting both at conferences and in district-level PD. While I have caved on occasion and made handouts (sometimes groups will require them) I usually don’t for the reasons you list. What I have started doing is make business card-style handouts with URL-shortened links to online resources. One side of the card is a business card for my blog/online presence and the other side has the link to session content. This strategy seems to be working to curtail complaints regarding handouts. It is also good PR.

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