I love a good PDF. This is a sample of a PDF I made for a class assignment. I made it in Pages on the MacBook using a template that came with the computer. It is pretty. It has pizzazz. It was easy to create. What’s not to love?
I will tell you what’s not to love. This is a document that I created with myself in mind. It fits the way I read online. It appeals to my sense of design. It is for someone who works and learns like I do: on a computer.
Unfortunately, that model just doesn’t work for students anymore. They do most of their online browsing from their phones. I have always loved the PDF because of its fixed graphic format, but that’s the very reason that it is no longer the best format for classroom materials. Fixed formats are good for computers, but they are not good for phones. PDFs are just not that readable on phones. They might still look pretty, but they aren’t readable in any truly efficient manner.
Move over PDF. The future of classroom handouts is ePub.
We have to meet our students where they are, and that means we have to deliver material in formats they can easily access. For smartphones, that means ePub and other ebook formats.
PDFs are still great for conference handouts and workplace documents meant to be shared with people who also work at computers all day, but they just aren’t what our students need anymore.
No one hates to admit that more than I do. Rest in peace, my beautiful and long-lived relationship with the PDF for classroom purposes.