How will I provide course materials?

This section provides an overview on delivering and managing course materials using pedagogical best practices with technologies supported by the Division of Information Technology (DOIT) and the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL).

Specifically, it will review methods to make course textbooks, readings, and multimedia materials available to students. It is important to develop a consistent way to deliver materials to students in order to minimize potential confusion about where to find things.

Using Blackboard

The easiest way to share course materials with students is to put them in Blackboard. This approach works equally well in online, hybrid, and campus-based courses, and most students are already familiar with how to use Blackboard.

Upload materials to Blackboard. Blackboard provides a simple solution for sharing course files within a course site. You can upload Files including text documents, spreadsheets, slide presentations, audio files, and video recordings. You can also create short notes, library citations, and post collections of links to outside web pages.

Create folders to organize resources in Blackboard. This can be done in any way that makes sense to you and fits the structure of your course. Some instructors create individual folders for each week of the course, while others prefer to organize material by topic. However you choose to organize your content, give students an outline or description in the course syllabus so they know how to find content they need.

Organize materials in Blackboard modules. The modules tool is a way to organize resources, activities, and media as a web page. A course site can contain as many modules as needed. As with folders, there are many different ways to organize your content in modules. Common approaches include grouping content by week or by topical unit in the course. While folders are mostly used to provide files, modules can give students a pathway to work through course materials sequentially.

Customize folders or modules to meet your learning objectives. Students generally work through folders or modules in order, so think about how you’d like content to build throughout the lesson before you start creating content. Each lesson can be structured differently and can include links to other Blackboard tools like Files (described above), Assignments, Forums, or Tests & Quizzes. You can also design lessons so that some content is only visible to students after they complete prerequisite activities or following a designated date and time.

Creating your own course videos

If you need to deliver small amounts of content to students in lecture format, that can be done live (in Collaborate), but if you have time you can also record videos for your students. 

Keep your videos short. The most engaging videos are short, generally under 7 minutes in length. 

You can have more on the screen than just yourself. You can share your computer screen and narrate while showing slides or doing a demonstration. If you would like to record yourself working on problems or solving equations, you can use a virtual writing surface like a tablet or use Collaborate’s whiteboard feature. Whatever content you show, be sure to keep your video on while recording. Students are more likely to keep watching videos when they can see their instructor somewhere on the screen.

You can add assessments to existing videos. If you’d like to stop during a video to ask students a self-reflection question, you can use a tool called Kaltura. You can also break videos into short segments and put quizzes between them.

Using existing content from outside sources

Instead of recording your own lecture videos or creating instructional media, you may curate existing content that covers some of the topics you’d like to include in your course. You can often save time by finding high-quality open educational resources that give students an introduction to a topic. Some places to find good content include:

  • OER Commons: a free repository of open educational resources that is searchable by subject and topic
  • OpenStax at Rice University: for open textbooks in a range of subjects, mostly at the introductory level

Many other types of supplementary materials can also be found on the web including e-texts, practice tests, problem sets, online simulations and animations, virtual labs, virtual field trips, and more. Once you have selected the appropriate content, you can link or embed them in your Sakai or WordPress site.

If you plan to show media that you didn’t create you may need to have students independently access the content.

Using library materials

NIU's library system has extensive access to many materials you can use for your courses.

Take advantage of electronic access to materials. Electronic copies of many course texts are available through the NIU library, or the library may be able to arrange electronic access with the book publisher. Journal articles or other short works can be placed on e-reserves at Duke. There are some limitations on what can be posted due to copyright restrictions, but the libraries have staff who can help navigate those issues and will make every effort to post what is needed for your course. 

Ask a librarian for access to films. If you are showing films in class, talk to a librarian to see if a streaming copy of the film is available for student use. Depending on licensing and availability, you may have to consider substitutes.

Creative Commons License

Flexible Teaching guides were developed by Duke Learning Innovation and adapted for NIU by the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. They are shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Hybrid Course Delivery

Are you planning to deliver a hybrid course? Learn more tips for designing and delivering a hybrid class.

Guide to Hybrid Course Delivery


Didn’t find what you were looking for? Need more information? Contact the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) with your feedback and questions about this resource.

Workshops & Support

CITL staff are available to answer your questions about Flexible Teaching. Give us a call or text 815-753-0595 or email for assistance. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our staff.

View CITL upcoming events to view available upcoming workshops offered or to register.

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