Types of Course Materials
In the face-to-face classroom it is common to use publisher-created textbooks
and course content. This type of content still exists in distance education in
the form of ePacks (also
known as Course Cartridges).
There are, however, many different options for adopting, adapting and
creating multimedia course content for the online environment that provide
affordable alternatives to traditional textbooks. In addition to the various instructional
technology tools that can be used to create original course
content, there are also many resources available through the Shasta College library as
well as openly licensed eTextbooks, eBooks and CourseWare, known as OpenEducational Resources (OER).
Shasta College-Supported Library
Shasta College subscribes to numerous databases and online
electronic full-text resources through the Shasta College Library. The use of
these resources are subject to various copyright and fair use laws. The best
way to ensure the material use is compliant with copyright and fair use is to
create direct links to the items. If you need help with creating links
to content contact Cheryl Cruse (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Please note that students must have a library card to access the content.
Online students, who apply for library card online, will have one mailed to them.
Companion websites provide supplemental
materials to a textbook; eBooks are texts that have been converted to
digital format. e-Packs are entire publisher-developed
courses that can often be loaded directly into the LMS.
At first it might seem that using e-Packs is beneficial, since having
content that is already created can reduce the amount of time it takes to
develop course content and activities. e-Pack content directly matches that in
the textbook and is customizable (meaning that instructors can choose the order
and content they wish to make available to students). There is a lot of
engaging and well-developed content available .
However, when considering an e-Pack for a course, it is important to
understand there are some issues with e-Packs that may outweigh the benefits. Before
adopting an e-Pack for a course, it is necessary to make certain that the
e-Pack addresses the following criteria for best practices in online education
Title 5 regulations (Section 59402)
specify that students in distance education courses must be able to use
electronic materials in the same way as they would face-to-face textbook
materials. This means that students should be able to download, save or print
materials not only during the course but after it as well. Any e-Pack that
does not allow students to save materials is in violation of Title 5
In addition to tuition and what students have to pay for
textbooks, publisher e-Packs charge additional fees for course access codes.
codes cost anywhere from $15-$100 per course.
and where to purchase e-Pack codes is not always clear (online,
bookstore, bundled with the textbook). When publishers require students
to buy codes online it may be a violation of student privacy rights,
because it requires students to log in and use a credit card on a third
who buy used texts may still have to pay full price for an e-Pack code.
the cost of the code is not refundable, creating an additional financial
burden for students who drop the class.
Because e-Packs are created by a range of publishers, there is no
guarantee that the materials will be accessible to students with
disabilities. Generally eBooks that come with a course are compliant, but the
added content (flashcards, etc.) may not be. For some students, assistive
technology and support may be available, but it may require students to log
on to third party websites, which can violate student privacy laws.
Each individual e-Pack must be evaluated for accessibility prior
e-Packs are publisher-created and copyrighted material. Instructors can
tailor the content to meet their needs. Any page that has publisher
information on it must have the appropriate copyright information.
Instructors can insert notes and comments onto copyrighted pages.
For most e-Pack publishers, content generated by instructors remains the
intellectual property of the instructor. However, it is best to check with
the individual publisher to ensure that this is their policy.
All e-Packs must follow federal guidelines for student
privacy, otherwise known as FERPA
compliance. Publisher e-Packs are not always FERPA compliant.
Students cannot be required to use a site that requires them to reveal any
information other than directory data. In addition, if students are required
to use a third-party publisher site, they will need to be issued aliases if
that website is not FERPA compliant.
are sometimes hosted on third-party websites, meaning that students have
to leave the LMS order to access information or contribute to the
there is a chance that student educational record data – grade,
comments, roster information – is stored on a website outside the LMS,
this could violate FERPA guidelines.
There are numerous concerns with e-Packs and best
practices in online instruction.
are created by the publisher, and as such, may not meet the quality
standards for the Course Outline of Record.
though e-Packs are customizable, there is not as much flexibility about
how the content is presented than there is in instructor-developed
between the e-Pack material (tone, type of content, organization) and
what the instructor creates may be confusing for students.
of material and assessments in e-Packs often do not encourage
collaborative, student-centered or critical thinking activities.
is not always clear to students how to access and use content,
particularly if they have to register at third party websites. Students
may be so overwhelmed by dealing with different content delivery systems
that the course quality suffers.
There are a number of technical issues with e-Packs.
is limited on-campus tech support for e-Packs. Most technical issues
need to either be dealt with by the instructor or go through the publisher.
This shifts the focus of instructor from content delivery to tech
need to make certain they have the right version of the content. With
each new textbook edition, faculty need to double-check that they have
an updated version of the e-Pack.
can take up to 2 weeks to acquire and load e-Pack content onto the LMS.
content to new courses can sometimes present problems depending on what
course section the e-Pack content is linked to.
"Shasta College Online Faculty Resources", is a derivative of "PCCOnline Faculty
Resources” by Pasadena City College Distance Education Program, used under
a CC by Katie Datko, Editor.