Hi everyone,

I'm looking for research information that provides the best approach to use when giving class participants hardcopy handouts/course materials for virtual courses.


Anecdotally I'm sure we've all heard statements running from "if you give materials to participants they'll use them to distraction" to "participants must have something in front of them to take notes."


I'd appreciate any references to help me develop a standard policy on how to manage materials for VILT.


Thanks very much,


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Hi Brian

I've been teaching in virtual classrooms for the last six years and I've experimented with handouts quite a bit. From my experience, it really does depend on what you are teaching. Strategies that I use depend on what I'm trying to achieve.

For example: if you are delivering more of a webinar than a teach-in, I would use the file download facility at the end of the webinar to deliver a handout. That way, learners who didn't take their own notes are covered, and those that did have a backup to what they noted down.

For sessions where there is more active teaching going on, I do issue handouts and activities beforehand, but I will provide the instructions on what to do with the handouts only in the session. That way they can't do the handout before the session as they don't have the instructions. Alternatively, I will use the FIle Download feature so they don't get them until they need them.

During the session itself I will actively encourage them to tune out of the session (either minimise the window or logout) butI will stay in the room whilst they complete the handout and then when they are done, get them to come back into the room. This is also helpful because they can pop back in if they have questions or are having difficulty with the activity.

I've used Google Docs and other document sharing facilities (SharePoint, shared folders) to distribute handouts to learners and for them to submit their handouts back if appropriate. When the learners come back in the room you can then share what they have done with the handout/exercise on screen all together or discuss with them individually in a virtual breakout room, depending on what is appropriate.

Does that help?


Hi Julie,
Thanks very much! Extremely helpful.
Hello Brian

In VILT you have little control on what the participant is actually doing anyway, be it being intensely engaged or doing e-mail. (Of course there are things you can do to maximise their engagement, however, let's assume all of those are a given)

Consequently I believe in trusting the learner and sharing the materials during the meeting (we use live meeting) - better they are reading those than their e-mail :-)

Best regards




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