Zero-Cost Content

Adopt Content

You indicated that the faculty member wants to adopt the content. All right!

Let’s make sure the students will be able to access it simply.

Resource Format

First, what is the format of the resource in question? It might be a textbook offered in PDF, ePub, HTML, through Canvas Commons, or offered online in some other way.

If the resource is in Pressbooks, there is an LTI integration that places the content into direct view in Webcourses (so it appears just like a Webcourses Page would):

Pressbooks LTI Integration with Webcourses

If the person wants to use a resource external to Pressbooks, it’s usually pretty easy to point the students toward it. For instance, if a faculty member wanted to adopt this Engineering textbook offered through Open SUNY, they could simply link to that webpage and ask students to download the PDF from there.

The faculty member may want to download the PDF from the site and upload it into their course as well. If you’re really nifty like John Raible with this AMH2020 course, a big PDF could be broken into separate chapter PDFs and linked within each module. IDs aren’t expected to do this work, but you can point faculty to resources that might help them (e.g.,

Note: If the resource also comes in a print version, this will be helpful in the Communication Plan section below.

Communication Plan

Next is to discuss how to communicate with students about access to the resource. It’s recommended in the syllabus to clearly say that the resource is online and freely available. A direct link to the resource can be placed there.

If there is a print option, it should be mentioned in the syllabus (for instance, students could buy a print version of the Psychology OpenStax book if they really wanted to). In the case of print, list the ISBN number. When putting in an order to the bookstore, this ISBN can be listed but make sure that “come to class before buying book” is noted by the faculty member.

Here is the language used in the AMH2020 course which uses an OpenStax book: “U.S. History by OpenStax ISBN: 978-1-938168-36-9. The textbook is free and available online. Textbook download instructions. You can choose to print out the pages – free through Student Government – or if you insist, the book is for sale in the bookstore.”

Pro Tip: Encourage the faculty member to make their syllabus visible within PeopleSoft by using the Course Preview Feature before students register for the course, so students can see that the materials are free. Also consider sending out an email to the class roster before class starts so that students understand they don’t have to buy a copy.


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Affordable Instructional Materials – ID Handbook Copyright © 2019 by James Paradiso, Aimee deNoyelles, John Raible, Denise Lowe, Debra Luken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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