Where can I find reliable content?

It is not necessary to start from scratch when looking for content to replace textbooks or to vary learning activities. There are many resources available to the NIU community and a network of instructors who share materials from their courses openly. Curated content will continue to be useful when courses are taught face-to-face.

NIU Libraries can help

Speak with your subject specialist librarian about finding and providing access to content for your course. Your students may be geographically distributed without access to their course textbook or hard copies of materials on campus. However, an electronic copy of the textbook or relevant journal articles may be available through the library’s resources. Some readings may be able to be placed on e-reserves. If you are showing films in class, talk to your subject specialist librarian to see if a streaming copy of the film is available for student use. There are some limitations on what can be posted online 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. Depending on licensing and availability, you may have to consider substitutes.

Check out the NIU Library's Free, Open, and Affordable Resources for lists of OERs or contact your subject specialist to discuss OER options for your course.

Explain how to access NIU library resources off campus. Whether you are on or off campus, you and your students have access to many databases and journals licensed by NIU Libraries. When off campus, you will need to authenticate with your A-ID/Z-ID and password.

If you plan to use readings and other materials from NIU Libraries that require students to access library resources, it can be helpful to include this information in your syllabus. More detailed information for off campus access to NIU Libraries resources can be reviewed here.

Provide research instruction and support for your students with the help of your subject specialist librarian. Library tutorials that explain how to navigate library resources can be linked to or embedded in course shells. Subject specialist librarians offer research instruction in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. Ask a Librarian Reference Services are available through Chat, Text (815-782-0396), or the Ask A Librarian Submission Form. Consider including the contact information for your subject specialist librarian so students can contact them directly for assistance.

Educational technology can enhance learning experience

Consider using educational tools that enhance interactions with content. There are many educational technologies that allow students to receive immediate feedback on their understanding of the content and provide engagement during your live class sessions. These types of applications can:

Next Steps

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.


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 citl@niu.edu 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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