Currently, professors and administrators exchange electronic files with students using a wide variety of file formats. Files sent to a student using the latest file formats may only be readable if the student has the latest version of software installed.
Additionally, instructors who insist that assignments be submitted electronically in a particular file format may similarly impose a burden on students. While it is recognized that there will be circumstances where the information conveyed requires specialized formats, such as CAD/CAM drawings or software source code, faculty members should be sensitive to the issue described above, and be as accommodating as possible.
It is strongly recommended that the software students will need for a course be prescribed in the course syllabus, like textbooks and other course materials. In many cases, sending electronic materials to students in PDF format is an effective practice, since files can be exported to this format from most if not all office suites and can be read by freely available software on most operating systems.
Executive Council, June 22, 2011