Integrating OER in Canvas

A crucial piece of utilizing open educational resources (OER) is deciding how to integrate them into your Canvas course. While CELT has many excellent resources to help you structure your Canvas course effectively, this page will focus on how to share and utilize OER in Canvas. 

1. Provide a syllabus statement or explanation about the content

If you’ve adopted OER for your course, it's important to communicate with your students how to get access to the materials as early as possible. Below are some sample statements you may include in your syllabus to describe your OER for students. You are free to reuse and revise these statements as you see fit:

"The textbook for this class is an open educational resource (OER), meaning it is available for free online. You can access the online version of the text from the book’s landing page [link text] or from within Canvas. You may visit the book’s landing page to download the text for free in the format that works best for you (including PDF and EPUB). The OER is openly licensed and DRM-free, so you may also print individual chapters or the entire text without restrictions. If you prefer, you may opt to purchase a print version for [quoted price] from University Printing Services."

For a shorter statement, you might say:

"In this class, we will be using the free online resource, [Resource title] by [author(s)]. Links to all readings, videos, quizzes, and other activities are provided in our class' Modules in Canvas: [link to Modules]"

2. Assign a "get to know our course" game

It can be overwhelming for students to come into a class using online or interactive materials for the first time!

To acclimate your students to your content, consider a low-stakes assignment like a short syllabus quiz. If you're using an online homework software like MyOpenMath for your course, it's especially important that you walk students through how to log in and access their course assessments online. 

3. Give students multiple options for interfacing with content

OER come in a wide array of formats and sizes, so you can mix and match the best resources for your needs. However, "your needs" and students' needs aren't always the same. Below are a few tips for how you can present content differently to encourage engagement:

  • If you're using an online OER textbook or handbook, get a quote from University Printing before the semester starts so you can tell students how much it might cost to get a print copy of your book in loose-leaf or spiral-bound formats.
  • If you're sharing lecture videos with your course, attach a copy of your lecture slides to supplement the content. This will help students follow along as they watch your lecture, and provide another space for them to take notes.
    • If you're using videos or audio podcasts as examples in your class, download the transcripts to share separately. Some students prefer to quickly browse through content by reading it, and then follow up by watching the full video. 
  • For content available in Pressbooks, consider using the Pressbooks LTI in Canvas to import your open textbooks' Common Cartridge export and seamlessly integrate your book's chapters into your Canvas Modules. 

These tips and more were informed by the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines from CAST.

Additional Support for Canvas at ISU

Canvas @ ISU is a Canvas Support site for instructors at ISU, created by the Center for Excellence in Learning & Teaching (CELT). Use this site for informational guides, checklists to get you through the semester, and help locating support through CELT's instructional design staff. 


Much of this page's content was adapted from "How to share your course materials in Canvas Commons," licensed CC BY 4.0 and managed by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.