A good online course links itself to the old system of printed text. It provides a summary of the learning provided by the course which can be printed in PDF format so that the student obtains a text summary of the course. Online courses often minimize text in an effort to be different from the text-centered, and increasingly unpopular, courses of the past. Long streams of text in an online course turn off most learners and make the online course look like little more than a traditional textbook put onto a computer. That is not an attractive format for online learning.
But there is a place for somewhat lengthy text in an online course. It is in the provision of a text summary of the course. This is usually best done in PDF format so that it cannot be altered by learners or others.
The PDF is valuable to the student for two reasons.
First, some students in online courses still prefer to study text. They will print on their computers everything in the online course that they are able to print. A text summary of the course is valuable to them for studying just as a summary chapter of a textbook would be in a traditional classroom course using a traditional textbook.
Second, a PDFsummary of the online course provides the learner with a printed document that he or she can provide to others to show what he or she has learned in the course.
Where an online course also uses a traditional textbook, a text summary of the course is less important for the online student. The traditional text provides a linkage of new to old learning methods.
But more and more online courses do not require the additional cost and duplicative information of a traditional textbook.
In the future, when traditional textbooks have disappeared, linkage of online learning to the older system of text-based learning will become unnecessary. But today, as the transition occurs from traditional learning to technologically assisted online learning, linkage is very important.