Content Design

Simply requiring students to read or listen to recorded lectures does not actively engage learners in content (lectures, slides, reading material, etc.) and the learning process. Rather than focusing on how you will deliver content, think about what the learner can do with the content.

Course Design Rubric

Before you select your textbook, determine the assessments, and build your course in Canvas, it’s important to start with a quality framework that guides your course design and development. Regardless of your course modality, you can use Butler’s Course Design Rubric to enhance your course content and ensure compliance with university and federal guidelines.

Syllabus Template

The Butler University Syllabus Template is designed to promote instructional best practices and communicate the most recent required and recommended syllabus language for all courses at Butler, regardless of modality. Use it as the starting point for your own course syllabi.

Course Design Templates

To guide your course design and build, Butler’s Digital Learning team has created several course templates, including templates for your syllabus, assignment descriptions, Canvas pages, and more. You can access and use the templates directly in Canvas or through Google Drive. For more information on how to utilize the course design templates, please check out:

Selecting and Assessing Content Sources


If you decide to require a textbook for your course, consider the format—is it available as an ebook or do all students need their own hardcopy? Textbook publishers offer a variety of online study aids and videos. Keep in mind they may require licensing or subscriptions for students to access these resources. Butler uses Follet Discover for textbook adoption; to begin the process, see How do I adopt textbooks for my course?

It might be beneficial to mix and match content from multiple sources. Alternative sources could include: a combination of book chapters, research articles, essays, reports, relevant websites, and open educational resources (OERs).

Open Educational Resources (OERs)

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), an organization that advocates for Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education, defines OER as “…teaching, learning, and research resources released under an open license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OER can be full courses, course materials, lesson plans, open textbooks, learning objects, videos, games, tests, software, or any other tool, material, or technique that supports access to knowledge.” Because of the open access and low costs, these resources can be great alternatives to publisher textbooks when sourced from credible authors. Butler’s librarians and staff in the Scholarly Communication Division can help source the best resources; request a consultation today.

For more information, visit the following links:

OER Grant Opportunities

If you want to begin using OER in your class, we encourage you to apply for a Course Redesign Grant through PALNI’s PALSave: Affordable Education initiative. (Faculty also have the opportunity to create their own OER textbooks through the PALSave Textbook Creation Grants Program.)

Butler Streaming Video Subscriptions

Butler subscribes to several educational video streaming databases with video ranging from documentaries to feature films and more from which faculty can pull course content. Faculty can build playlists of clips curated from multiple videos and embed clips, playlists, or entire videos in their Canvas courses. To search the databases and learn more, visit:

Assessing Your Sources

Evaluate each source for credibility, accuracy, clarity, and level of difficulty. Digital sources need additional scrutiny for formatting and accessibility. More information on evaluating digital sources can be found at: Digital Course Resource Evaluation Libguide. Contact your subject liaison librarian for one-on-one help in sourcing or evaluating course content.

Copyright and Fair Use

Digitizing Materials

Especially when teaching online or hybrid courses, you may find yourself in a position where you need to digitize physical resources. When digitizing, make sure to follow copyright law and fair use guidelines. The Butler Libraries has equipment and staff to help with the digitization process; request a consultation with the Scholarly Communication Division for more information.

With less lengthy resources, digitizing from your own device may be an option. Visit the Digitizing Materials Using a Smartphone page for more information.

Creating Your Own Content/Recordings


If a suitable resource does not exist for your course, you can write your own OER textbook. Grant funding is available through the PALSave Textbook Creation Grants Program.


Providing course content through self-produced videos provides an alternative means of representation of the material. Faculty can create video content from their own devices, in the classroom, or in dedicated spaces like the Lightboard Studio and Sound Booth.

Before recording, for best results try to:

  • Create an outline or script and practice ahead of time.
  • Use a conversational tone.
  • Stand up to record videos rather than sitting.
  • Practice looking at the webcam rather than what’s on the screen.
  • Keep it short! Recordings shouldn’t be 50 minutes long. Record  5- to 7-minute mini-lectures instead.

When creating self-produced multimedia content, all video clips should be captioned and all audio clips should be accessible in another format. Visit the Accessibility page for more information.

Faculty can use several Butler-supported academic technology tools and spaces to create video content. While the options may feel daunting, we recognize different disciplines and personal preferences influence technology choice. To find the best solution for your use case, explore the resources below or schedule a consultation with an Academic Technology Specialist.

Faculty Video Examples

Sally Perkins, instructor of COM 101: Rhetoric and the American Democracy, teaches students to become engaging public speakers. After the quick shift to remote teaching and learning in Spring 2020, Perkins decided to transition her normal face-to-face lecture content to pre-recorded lectures using Panopto. She reflected on the experience, saying:

“…I wondered if it would be worth all the effort.  Then during the fall, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was worth the effort… I really did find that “flipping” the classroom allowed me to use more in-class time working with students to apply the principles from the videos… Because I teach public speaking, I could literally see my students mimicking what they watched me do in my own presentations—how I managed eye contact, how I showed slides, the length of the lectures, how I used voice & body to make the lecture come to life, etc.  In essence, the students had more models to work from.”

In her video titled “Citing Sources Orally” embedded below, Perkins demonstrates several video best practices. Perkins chunked her content to keep her recordings around the 5-7 minute mark; notice around the three-minute mark, she describes how she broke up the content, giving students verbal and visual clues about what to expect.

For faculty examples of Lightboard videos, visit the Physical Spaces page.

Board WorkLectures with Slides & AnnotationsLectures with Slides (no annotations)Location-Based Videos
Panopto*Use a white slide and follow the Panopto annotation instructionsSelect PowerPoint or Keynote AND turn on Screen CaptureSelect PowerPoint or Keynote (screen capture is optional)Use the Panopto mobile app to record videos in the field or lab
Zoom*Share and annotate a whiteboardRecord a shared screen of your PowerPoint in presentation mode. Use Zoom or PPT annotation tools.Record a shared screen of your PowerPoint in presentation mode.Use the Zoom mobile app to record videos in the field or lab
Document Camera

(Check out from Irwin)

Use with Panopto or Zoom.Not recommended.Not recommended.Not recommended.

(Check out from Irwin)

Not recommended.Embed GoPro clips into slides (record separately)Embed GoPro clips into slides (record separately)Record hands-on skills or location-specific content. Upload video file to Panopto after recording
Wacom Tablet

(Check out from Irwin)

Use a Wacom tablet for more precise annotations. Use with OneNote, Zoom whiteboard, etc.Use a Wacom tablet for more precise annotations in PowerPointNot recommended.Not recommended.

(View the Lightboard LibGuide for at-home alternatives like the iLightboard app.)

View the Lightboard LibGuide for tips and how-to.Use slides with black backgrounds (anything black becomes transparent) and create annotations with physical markersUse slides with black backgrounds (anything black becomes transparent)Not recommended.
Sound BoothUse the Sound Booth for a quiet environment and use Panopto or Zoom.Use the Sound Booth for a quiet environment and use Panopto or Zoom.Use the Sound Booth for a quiet environment and use Panopto or Zoom.Not recommended.

*New users to Panopto and Zoom are encouraged to enroll in the Pivot Pedagogy Program and complete the Panopto/Zoom modules or explore other learning opportunities listed on the Training page.