Choosing Materials

A variety of materials and formats are available to use in online teaching. It is best to use many of these when presenting information online -- variety works well. You may need to include instructions for students on how to use some of formats and you should always consider cost to students as well as differences in student technical expertise. Some instructors have actually mailed materials as "on loan" to students for the semester, to be mailed back at the end.


For more on materials and formats, see Content and Multimedia


  • Best if visual and organized into workable sections
  • Online e-books are available - less expensive, but not as portable - also reading large amounts of text online can be tiring (smart phones, and e-book readers may change this - see sidebar)
  • Consider using no textbook at all or use zero cost options.


  • Publisher content can be included as less expensive bundles with textbooks
  • CD/DVDs can contain extra videos, presentations, labs


  • Streaming allows instant viewing with download lag
  • mp4 is the most common format for video
  • YouTube and other video can be embedded in Canvas
  • See Library Media faculty services for more options


  • Add graphics, audio narration, and video (see Content)
  • Use free "flowgram" programs for interactive Web presentations (see Programs/Applications  for information)

Graphics and Animation

  • Use a digital camera or royalty-free clipart
  • Develop you own animations using Flash or other programs
  • Add narration to even still photos, diagrams, charts, or graphs for effect

Podcasts and more

  • Mp3 audio or Mp4 video can be used by students on the go via smartphones


  • Various programs allow you to make interactive crossword puzzles, games, flashcards (see Useful Resources)


  • Newspapers, journals, academic departments online (see Useful Resources)
  • Can be viewed smartphones


  • Video with tips to help your students conduct quality research
  • Give assignments to students involving local or college libraries


  • Use simulated, online, or at-home lab exercises - "dry" labs (see sidebar for links and examples)


  • Two-way video and audio for live virtual classrooms
  • Students need a connected camera and microphone (webcam, headset)
  •  ConferZoom - Free video conferencing and webinar software for all California Community Colleges.  See Using ConferZoom in Canvas.
  • For a list of conferencing solutions see Useful Resources