Instructional Materials

Diagram showing how types of learning resources overlap to create student engagement.

Curate an Amazing Course

In the course design and development process, you will collect texts, lectures, and multimedia to support your students’ content mastery, conceptual understanding, and demonstration of skills. Alignment occurs when the learning resources you choose prepare students for the activities and assessments you have planned.

You might start with a textbook or other readings, accompanied by some video lectures. But providing a broader range of materials helps keep students engaged. Consider using a range of media to connect your course material to real-world issues or career-oriented examples that matter most to your students. Remember to consider students’ existing background knowledge and the diverse array of perspectives they may bring to the class.

To maximize student engagement, consider a blend of voices and formats. By using some resources you create and others that you curate, you give students access to your own expert voice, alongside the voices and perspectives of other authorities. By using a variety of content types, you make your course inviting for learners at many levels and with a variety of learning styles. Remember, as an expert teacher-scholar in your chosen field, you probably have a greater appreciation for readings than your students do!

Key Considerations for Learning Resources

  1. Is it engaging? How can I produce and curate materials that will hook my students and support my learning objectives?
  2. Is it free and fair to use? How can I find texts and other materials that are free to use, without making costly mistakes related to copyright?
  3. Is it accessible for all learners? How do I ensure that my learning materials do not inadvertently exclude or alienate some students?

Media for Courses

Video and multimedia increase instructor presence and enhance the overall student learning experience. Using a variety of tools and techniques can help you engage with students in creative, innovative ways. Miami Online’s Media Team provides numerous resources and tips for producing your own media.

DIY Media Development

Media Development with Miami Online

Copyright & Fair Use

When locating and developing resources for your courses, be mindful of copyright law as well as how to cultivate information literacy in your course. With today’s digital learning, copyright is an even more critical aspect of learning and research when using digital technologies. Copyright implications arise whenever anyone creates, interacts with, or shares content with others. Learn more about Copyright Law from Stanford University Libraries.

In general, if you do not own or have permission to use a work, and it does not fall under public domain or Creative Commons licensing, you will need to meet the criteria for fair use. The TEACH Act provides additional guidelines to support educational use. However, numerous requirements must be satisfied to merit protection under fair use. The good news is that often times, use in an educational setting is merited.

When teaching in the online environment, the requirements are more stringent as classroom use exemption for copyrighted material does not apply. This requires careful evaluation of media resources in the context of current law. It is your responsibility to comply with the law, and we’ve provided several great resources for learning about these issues.

Copyright Basics
  1. Explore the basics of copyright law via Columbia University Libraries and/or Stanford University Libraries
  2. Familiarize yourself with the Public Domain, which includes any work published in the U.S. before 1924.
Fair Use

Understand Fair Use, and choose the Fair Use checklist that works best for you.

  1. Columbia Fair Use Checklist
  2. University Systems of Georgia Fair Use Checklist

Copyright Crash Course: The TEACH ACT (Univ. of Texas)

This excerpt from the University of Texas’s Copyright Crash Course examines the complexity of the TEACH Act as compared to Fair Use.

Accessibility & Access

Accessible materials can mean the difference between learning barriers and learning opportunities. Poorly scanned documents or videos without closed captioning can result in accessibility issues. Access to all learners is required under the law, learn more about accessible digital materials and technologies.

Miami has a responsibility to provide students with disabilities equally effective communication of curricular materials (e.g., textbooks, workbooks, articles, compilations, presentations, collaborative assignments, videos, and images or graphical materials).Visit AccessMU for assistance with creating accessible courses.

AccessMU Center

Course Readings: More Than Just Textbooks

In addition to the variety of video and other media in your course, you’ll likely want to include some more “traditional” text-based resources. The good news is that online courses lend themselves well to sources beyond the old-school textbook.

Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are any type of media that is free and publicly available for educators and students to use, reuse, repurpose, and sometimes modify for educational purposes. OER initiatives have exploded over the past few years, due to concerns about the rising cost of college textbooks: the movement has deeper roots in the belief that everyone should have access to high-quality education through open sharing and collaboration.

Miami has embraced and is actively encouraging OER implementation and affordable learning initiatives through various outreach initiatives, workshops, and grant opportunities.

  1. Miami’s Academic Affairs Pages on OER
    Includes information regarding grants and professional development funds for OER implementation.
  2. Miami University Libraries OER LibGuide
    Miami University library staff are a great resource for your search for OER resources in your subject matter domain.
  3. Open Educational Resources and their Implementation at Miami University
    A white paper by the members of the 2014–2015 Faculty Learning Community Exploring Open Educational Resources (PDF download)
  4. Comprehensive link list of OER resources from the University of Pittsburgh: guides by subject, complete courses, open access books, multimedia, large repositories, images, and artworks.
Course Material Repositories
Creative Commons

Creative Commons – which role do you play? by @bryanMMathers is licenced under CC-BY-ND

Millions of people around the world have made their photos, videos, writing, music, and other creative content available for any member of the public to use. Creative Commons is not just a search tool for art that can be reused—it’s a way of life. Provide this suggestion to your students as well if they are creating works using various media. Become familiar with the Creative Commons philosophies and licenses. You can add your own work to the larger commons, or use and remix others’ work. Be sure to attribute the work you do use based on Creative Common’s best practices for attribution and the licenses as your guide.

Creative Commons Search

Miami Libraries Resources

Sometimes, you do want a traditional textbook or you need your students to consult scholarly journals in their field of study. Fortunately, almost every source you could want is available in electronic formats today, and the Miami University Libraries can save you time and effort in locating the best options. Work through your subject matter librarian for your media and articles, and gain the added benefit of ensuring you are using materials under fair use, as they secure copyright and help you follow the legal guidelines for use in education.

Librarians have created subject and course guides to provide specific resources for an area of study or for a particular class as well as topic guides such as Citation, Academic Integrity, Newspapers, and Visual Literacy.

Learn About the wonderful Miami University Libraries System: Our Libraries, Staff & Partners.

Not sure who you should talk to? Call the King Library Information desk at 513-529-4141.

Liaison Librarians: The subject area librarian assigned to your department can help build relevant library collections, teach course-related library instruction sessions and help with student and faculty research. If you have suggestions of materials you think should be available at Miami University Libraries for research or teaching purposes, contact your subject librarian.

Library Print and Digital Collections: The Libraries’ website connects you with thousands of articles, journals, and databases and millions of books. If a resource is not held by the Miami University Libraries, it may still be available through the OhioLink consortium (which lends items from the collections of libraries across the state) or through Inter-Library Loan.

Walter Havinghurst Special Collections & University Archives: Special Collections is committed to preserving rare book and historical items. Through conservation and digitization, these items are made available to researchers and for use in classes. The University Archives preserves key items connected to the history of Miami University and the surrounding community.

Scholarly Commons: The Scholarly Commons is an online repository created and maintained by the Miami University Libraries. Miami faculty and students may permanently deposit work in this repository to provide open access to their work, to maintain copyright, and to preserve the intellectual output of the Miami Community.

Video Resources: Any films at the library on reserve are able to be digitized by the library for use in your online course (restrictions apply). Online video tutorials are created by library staff on a number of research and student support related topics for your students. You can request additional tutorials through your subject matter librarian.

Create and Innovate: The Create and Innovate (C+I) department includes dedicated and high-energy collaborative spaces for ideation, digital scholarship, 3D printing, data visualization, virtual reality, makerspaces, multimedia production, and more.