Instructional materials are the content or information conveyed within a course. These include the lectures, readings, textbooks, multimedia components, and other resources in a course. These materials can be used in both face-to-face and online classrooms; however, some must be modified or redesigned to be effective for the online environment. The best instructional materials are aligned with all other elements in the course, including the learning objectives, assessments, and activities.
Why Is It Important?
Instructional materials provide the core information that students will experience, learn, and apply during a course. They hold the power to either engage or demotivate students. This is especially true for online courses, which rely on a thoughtful and complete collection of instructional materials that students will access, explore, absorb, and reference as they proceed in a course.
Therefore, such materials must be carefully planned, selected, organized, refined, and used in a course for the maximum effect. The planning and selection of instructional materials should take into consideration both the breadth and depth of content so that student learning is optimized.
How to Put Into Practice?
Instructors and/or instructional designers should cast a wide net and aim for a variety of materials to include in their course. At the same time, they should be deliberate with these choices so that the course has the appropriate combination of instructional materials. Below are just a few categories of instructional content to include in an online course.
Note: Select the plus sign or headings to reveal additional content.
Where to Find Resources?
- Download a syllabus checklist and template using Quality Matters standards.
Note: These resources link to UW-Madison Google App documents and will require a UW-Madison NetID login. Please read our instructions for logging into UW-Madison Google Apps.
- Review UW-Madison’s complete guide to creating and selecting accessible course materials.
- Open Educational Resources (OERs)
- Copyright Resources:
The “Instructional Materials” deep dive topic provides strategies and best practices to help you find, plan, create, and organize instructional materials and media in an online course.
Topics covered include:
- Planning and Selecting Course Content
- Types of Instructional Materials
- Digital Media Best Practices and Tools
- Finding and Using Existing Content
- Accessible Design
Note: These courses are available for FREE to all UW-Madison faculty and staff. When you click the link you will be prompted to sign in with your UW-Madison NetID and password. Then you will be taken to the topic homepage where you can learn more and complete activities.