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Online courses: content strategies


Online courses: content strategies

Below are some of the content strategies faculty and instructional designers should consider when designing an online course.

Subject Librarians

Meet with a subject librarian early in the process. They can identify how to access content (is it free or owned, or can we purchase it), provide support to students through Canvas, and answer copyright questions. 

What BC owns (search the Library Catalog) 

Determine online options. Search the library catalog to find out if BC has access.  If we do, is the item limited to one use at a time, or do we need to buy more copies, or upgrade so that all students can use it at the same time? 

Affordable Course Material/ OERs A Subject Librarian can help identify Affordable Course Material such as Open Textbooks, Open Access books and journals, etc.
Free websites

Is it a free website? You can link to free sites within Canvas, just remember as with anything free, it can disappear at any time. 

BC owns but Not online

Is it a book, article, or dvd that we only have in hard copy? We can check for an online version or see if we can get streaming rights. If it's not available online, we can scan a fair-use portion (up to 20%). 

Linking to library content

Understand how to link. Off-campus access requires a BC sign-in. Links found in the library catalog should provide off-campus access. See Remote Access to Library Resources.


Databases often have a permalink to articles or ebooks. Look for a permalink whenever it's available instead of using the browser URL which can be unstable.

Accessibility Make the content accessible to the students.  Link to sites rather than uploading pdf files. Make sure students are aware of tools such as Read&Write that makes documents, files, and web pages more accessible. 


Timing - how long it may take to get material

Once you have determined a list of material that you need, either because we don't own it online or we don't own it at all, fill out the Library Reserves Request form. We will link to, scan, or purchase the missing items. Items added by the library will appear in Canvas under the Library tab.


Type of material Considerations How long it may take
Books and Book Chapters

If the publisher sells an ebook version to libraries, we will try to purchase it; we cannot buy ebooks for individual use such as Amazon Kindle ebooks.

If the book is only available in print, then copyright restrictions would only allow up to 20% to be scanned. 

1-2 weeks
Articles We will scan print articles from the BC collection or try to get them from another library using Interlibrary Loan. 1 week
Film / streaming media We will try to negotiate for streaming rights and license access for 1 year. 1 month
Short clip from a DVD If we own the DVD, we will create a short clip and put that into Panopto.  1 week
Full course reading list Library Reserves Request form - Faculty can use this form to send us a list of material for your course. Course Reserves links will appear in Canvas within the Library tab. You can then move the links to other places within Canvas. If the course has a development site as well as a regular site, make sure you send all Course Codes so the reading list will show up in each Canvas site. 6 weeks in advance of course review deadline


Online Learning Librarian

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Theresa Lyman
O'Neill Library
Room 308