Monday, June 13, 2011

Paper(Less) Training Session!

This weekend was the GI Rights Training put on by Seattle Draft and Military Counseling Center, with help from Seattle University's Access To Justice Institute. It went very well, with training from some very experienced people and well over a dozen participants, most of whom were recruiting through SU/ATJI's blog listing service opportunities, although I believe at least one was recruiting through my World Peace Through Law Section newsletter. It was a great bunch of people and some very useful information!
Print Less Or ...
Even Better: Not At All!
I was heavily involved in planning the event, and as we put the budget together, suggested we turn our handouts into a PDF to mail to registrants, and then let them decide whether to print it out or bring it on their laptop.
This turned out to be a pretty popular idea, and had a lot of advantages:
  • Cost: It costs nothing to mail a PDF, whereas printing or copying would be something like a nickel a page. 20 copies of 140 pages added up to a lot of nickels better spent elsewhere.
  • Distribution: It was trivial to distribute the handout in advance of the course, which let people get a sense of what it was about. A couple of people called in sick and I take some comfort in knowing that, at the least, they can read the material.
  • Waste: Experience shows that most handouts end up bring thrown away or, at best, recycled, after being read possibly once. This seems wasteful. In addition, if we were furnishing hardcopies, we would have had to print extras in case of walk-ins.
  • Time: The handout could be worked on until later in the process than would have been possible had we needed to print it.
  • Utility: I found it a lot easier to search for things in the 140-page PDF than it would have been to leaf through 
The only big disadvantage I found was Page Orientation: a few pages were printed in landscape; it was a real pain to read them. I used to have a portrait-to-landscape screen flipper utility but I don't know where that is, which is kinda of ironic when you consider that the aspect ratio of most laptops would be better suited for landscape than for portrait.

I'm posting this mostly because I'm proud of the success of the program, but also because this week's Change The World Wednesday Challenge is all about saving paper. Some of the ideas I'm not sure I could really get into writing about, but saving a few thousands of sheets of paper this weekend is something I'd like to spread around. Wouldn't it be wonderful if distributing handouts this way became the norm?

1 comment:

Small Footprints said...

What a great idea! And, it's just thrilling that everyone read the material on electronic devices rather than printing out hard copies. Easier for the organizers ... cheaper ... easy for the participants ... and excellent for the earth. It's a total WIN! Congrats on such a brilliant success!