Working with PDF Course Materials

The Office of Teaching and Learning recommends to instructors that they provide their lecture slides in the following format: PDF, 1 slide/page, color. This supports the college’s effort to move toward electronic notes. This recommendation is also meant to help reduce time and effort that instructors often spend on preparing lecture materials in multiple formats. It’s important for students to understand that faculty receive multiple requests asking for slides and notes in very particular formats. They simply cannot accommodate all of the requests.

We want you, the students, to know that you often have control over how you see and print PDFs. It is part of self-directed learning and allows you to control the way you use course materials to study.

This particular format has several advantages to you as students:

  • PDFs can be viewed on modern devices without needing to install additional applications.
  • PDFs are designed to be portableĀ and are often smaller in file size than PowerPoint files. This is great for individuals with slower home internet and/or metered mobile internet.
  • PDFs are more versatile in terms of accommodating both typed and written notes. Based on research findings, we recommend experimenting with taking electronic notes by hand (using a stylus on your iPad, for example).
  • The 1 slide/page, color format allows for easier modifications and/or printing options if necessary.

Based on some common requests, we have put together a list of tips:

  • For printing: The Print dialogue in Adobe Reader, which is a free download, allows you to adjust printing preference such as color, front-and-back, and multiple pages/slides per sheet. Depending on the system you are using, such as MacOS, you may also be able to export a new PDF files with the desired changes mentioned above.
  • For taking electronic notes: Annotation apps often allow you to adjust the color of your written or typed annotations, create (text) boxes with specified background color, and so on. You may also be able to add comments on the PDF, which creates markers at your desired locations that you can expand or collapse.
  • If you absolutely need to edit the PDF itself, you might find some success with Microsoft Word 2013/2016 for Windows (instructions). Alternatively, you may need to purchase a PDF editing application, such as Adobe Acrobat for PC/laptop (contact TechHub for more information).

The most important advice we can offer is to be flexible, experiment a bit, and find what works best for you. The only way to master your technology is to use/play with it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *