Pros and Cons of Using Paper-Based Training Materials


Ah, the training binder. An irrefutable repository for all things both relevant and irrelevant. If you’ve attended or facilitated a training session within the past century, chances are good that you know what I’m talking about. The thick, encyclopedia of information that is probably sitting on your shelf right now, collecting dust. Or maybe it’s being used as a doorstop?

(it’s okay, take a moment to glance at your shelf and/or “doorstop” and chuckle)

Yesterday, I noticed this as I was walking through an office – I just had to take a photo:


Times, they are a’changing. Not so many years ago, these binders would be loaded with documents. But now, we see nothing more than a sad, lonely training binder graveyard.

So, my question for you is this: Is there still a place for paper-based training materials – in the 21st century training world? We have so many tools at our fingertips – wikis, tutorials, FAQs, checklists, job aids, videos, blogs, and other wonderful technical resources – but are they truly the end-all-be-all for learning in today’s world? Well, to get you thinking, I came up with a short pro/con list:

pros and cons of using paper-based training materials


I know, I barely scratched the surface. That’s by design, because it’s your turn – I would love to hear from you. Please take a moment to answer this simple poll:

Thanks for sharing your pros and cons – look for the survey results in an upcoming phase(two)learning post!

This was a somewhat lighthearted post on the topic of paper-based training materials. Don’t get me wrong, I do feel they have their place in today’s learning world. I have a few training binders that I’ve received throughout my career that I reference often. I also have a few, like these, that sit on my shelf and collect dust…I haven’t touched them in months (maybe years?):


My opinion is that as facilitators and designers, we must evolve with our learners and the organizations we are supporting, and use all learning tools – whether paper-based, web-based, social or something else entirely – in a context that makes sense.

Our goal should be to determine the most appropriate learning solution/vehicle/platform for the situation, to effectively support the learning function.

Please share any other thoughts or ideas in the comments!


Enjoy this cartoon to close out today’s thought…





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