Distance Learning & Instructional Technology


Canvas Publisher Content Resources:

Use of Publisher Content in Distance Courses

Distance Learning and Instructional Technology (DLIT) values ancillary materials and resources provided by third party providers, specifically publisher content. However, while these resources are a useful addition to online and face-to-face courses alike, they should not be the primary content of an online or hybrid course. Those that design and develop courses must be careful to consider how these resources are used while ensuring that their use aligns with standards, best practices and the goals and outcomes of the course. In courses that include third-party content (including changeable content [e.g., web pages], static content [e.g., PDF documents], and assessment items), it is best practice to, when possible, use content that has been "packaged up" by the content provider (e.g., as Common Cartridge or Thin Common Cartridge) and deployed to a learning platform or portal where the teacher can manipulate the pieces of the content.

DLIT strives to insure that UNT Dallas and its distance learning programs and courses follow best practices and guidelines set forth by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), and the Interregional Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education as required by UNT Dallas’ participation in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA). Each of the before mentioned entities ask institutions to certify continued compliance with best practices and guidelines, many of which directly impact distance learning programs and courses as follows:

  • distance courses meet institution-wide standards and best practices to provide consistent quality and to provide a coherent framework,
  • assurance of accessible content used in courses,
  • review and approval processes ensuring the appropriateness of the technology used to meet the objectives of the program and course,
  • guarantee that the institution can exercise appropriate responsibility for the academic quality of all online learning offerings provided under its name,
  • course design and delivery supports appropriate interaction between faculty and students and among students,
  • the integrity of its online offerings by ensuring that the student who registers for a distance course is the one that participates and completes the course, and
  • students are supported in the use of required technologies and software.

When adopting publisher materials in online and hybrid courses we should consider the following:

Maintaining Instructor Presence in the Course

  • UNT Dallas students see their instructors as the subject matter expert for the course and content not the textbook provider or publisher.
  • Never allow publisher-made materials to be the meat of your course!
  • When designing a distance course, the primary teaching material should be those materials that you have personally developed.
  • Publisher materials are designed to supplement the personal touch that only a faculty member can bring to the class.

Ensuring Alignment of Publisher Materials with Standards and Outcomes

  • Always consider if publisher materials align with UNT Dallas course goals, outcomes, and objectives.
  • Some materials may not be a good fit based on the goals for the class that you are teaching. For example, do quiz bank questions or publisher activities align with course level outcomes or objectives that call for applying, comparing, contrasting, creating or other higher level Bloom’s Taxonomy Action Verbs?
  • Take the time to explain to your students how the publisher content helps improve their learning.

Verifying Accessibility of Publisher Materials

  • Consider the accessibility of publisher-developed materials before integrating them into your course. Many times the slide decks, PDF documents, graphics, and other materials do not meet Web content accessibility guidelines and are not usable when students require a screen reader or other assistive devices to access them.
  • Contact the publisher directly and inquire about the accessibility of materials and for an accessibility statement to include in your course and syllabus. This is often overlooked!

Ensuring Student Information for Retention and Administrative Access

  • How will students access content if they have an “incomplete?”
  • How will student work be retained per UNT Dallas Retention Policies after the licensed content period ends?
  • How will the content be accessible by those that administer distance programs to ensure quality, best practices, standards and ADA compliance?

Technical Support for Students

  • How will students access technical support if issues arise? Most third party providers, and publisher content are not supported by campus information technology or distance learning and instructional technology as these departments do not have administrative access to provide support.
  • Include technical support contact information in your course and syllabus and inform students of technical competencies needed to be successful in the use of the software.


Best Practices for Electronically Offered Degree and Certificate Programs. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). http://www.sacscoc.org/pdf/081705/commadap.pdf

Considerations When Using Publisher Materials in Online Courses. Adapted from Wiley Education Services Center for Teaching and Learning https://ctl.learninghouse.com/using-publisher-materials-effectively-online-courses/

Interregional Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education. National Council of State Authorization Reciprocity agreement (NC-SARA) page 58-61  https://nc-sara.org/sites/default/files/files/2019-07/NC-SARA_Manual19-2.pdf

Principles of Good Practice. Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. http://www.thecb.state.tx.us/reports/pdf/2708.pdf