2. Course Materials Overview

An essential component of course planning is selecting and preparing the course materials your students will use for learning in and out of class. Besides writing a syllabus to guide your students through the course, you will also want to consider what texts your students will use and how you will make those resources available to your students. Instead of traditional textbooks, many faculty are opting for alternative course materials and are making those materials available online. This section will introduce you to a variety of ways to choose and distribute course materials to your students.


The syllabus is an essential tool in any course. Generally given to students on the first day, it is the contract between the student and the teacher. If designed and utilized effectively, it helps to set a positive tone for the remainder of the quarter.

While parts of the syllabus have remained static, design elements of the dynamic parts have evolved with trends in adult education. The syllabus is an important part of creating a learner-centered environment.

How is the learner-centered syllabus different from its predecessors? In a nutshell, "When reading a learner-centered syllabus, students learn what is required to achieve the course objectives, and they learn what processes will support their academic success."1 Included here are strategies to help you design more learner-centered syllabi.

Beyond the Textbook: Course Materials

Faculty are frequently making use of Coursepacks, Course Reserves, and Open Education Resources to supplement or replace expensive textbooks.


Designing a Canvas site for your course gives students one more resource for successfully navigating your course. Using Canvas, you can distribute course materials, post grades and assignments, and stay in touch with students through announcements, messaging, and discussion forums.

Source Information

1. Grunert O'Brien, J., Mills, B. J., & Cohen, M.W., (2008). The Course Syllabus: A Learning-Centered Approach, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.