Types of Publisher Materials


Paula Ascher
Distance Learning and Instructional Technology Coordinator
pascher@cgcc.edu, (541) 506-6035

These could include, book publisher resources like: discussion questions, practice tests, Chapter PowerPoints, chapter objectives, videos, links, games, graphics etc used in face-to-face, online and hybrid classes. Consider using Open Educational Resources, which save students money and increase access.

There are basically two types of publisher-supplied materials: Materials you link to and materials you import. Here are questions to ask a publisher whose electronic materials you are considering using in your course.

Materials You Link To

The most common form is the password-controlled entry to a publisher's resources on a website. For example, students purchase a textbook and they get a password that gives them access to the publisher's website where they can view materials and use interactive resources.


  • You don't have to create or maintain the material (also can be a disadvantage - see below).

  • Students may get access to more sophisticated materials than you'd ever have time to create.

  • Materials and exercises match up well.

  • No copyright problems (publisher assumes responsibility).


  • Since you didn't create the material, you may not have control over what's there - publisher can change the materials without telling you.

  • If the publisher's site goes down, you are stuck - no staff at CGCC  has any control over what the publisher does. This is particularly problematic for student grades, which may be wiped out at anytime (so keep a backup somewhere else!)

  • Used books may not have a usable access code. Access codes are typically set up for one-time use.

  • There are accessibility problems with many publishers' materials.

Materials You Import

The most common form is a bank of quiz questions you can import to your question library in Moodle and then sample from.


  • You don't have to create the material but you get a lot of control over it

  • Students may get access to more sophisticated materials than you'd ever have time to create.

  • Materials and exercises match up well.

  • No copyright problems (publisher assumes responsibility).

  • Since the materials live within CGCC’s Moodle site, you'll have the support of the Distance Learning department in importing it, maintaining it, and supporting it if anything goes wrong.


  • There can be a steep learning curve to import and use the materials. Interoperability with Moodle may not be allowed by due to security issues.

  • When the publisher decides to change the materials (which may happen every six months), your imported materials and the text may no longer match and you'll need to download updated materials and reconfigure them.

  • There are "lock-in" problems with using publisher materials: the publisher wants you to become dependent on their materials so you will always require students to buy them.

  • There are accessibility problems with many publishers' materials.

Questions to ask Publishers (preferably before adopting their materials)

Ask about the Accessibility of their Materials

All instructional materials must be accessible to students with disabilities. Ask prospective publishers these questions to assess whether their content is accessible.

Are the videos captioned and audio recordings transcribed?

There should be transcripts for audio recordings and captions or subtitles for video. If there are not, ask the publishing representative if they would provide a captioned version in a timely manner if a student who needed them registered for your class.

Can all of the text that is displayed on the screen be read aloud by text-to-speech software?

Screen readers (assistive technology used by people who are blind) read real text. They cannot read images of text or text embedded in Flash animations/movies/simulations.

How accessible are the E-books?

Check to see if you can find a Document Accessibility Profile (DAP) (currently in beta) on the e-book. The goal of DAP is to make it easy to find and use accessibility information for electronic textbooks and other documents,

Can all interactivity (media players, quizzes, flashcards, etc.) be completed by keyboard alone (no mouse required)?

People who are blind or people who have upper mobility disabilities cannot use a mouse. They use the keyboard to navigate and interact with the Web. It is required that any interactive elements on the publisher's website (or on a DVD included with the book) be operable by a keyboard alone if they are used in your course. For example: An interactive exercise that requires dragging and dropping is not keyboard accessible, so unless there is a keyboard option to dragging and dropping, that sort of exercise should not be used in your course.

Is there any documentation available (VPAT or White Paper for example) that confirms accessibility or usability testing results?

A VPAT is a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template. It is used by many organizations to report the level of accessibility of their software products. If the publisher doesn't have a VPAT or any research that confirms the accessibility of their product(s), don't just take their word for how accessible they are.

If any of these answers are "No", you might want to consider a different publisher.

Ask about the Usability and Interoperability of their Materials

You need to consider all of these aspects when adopting outside materials.

Is your multimedia (Adobe) Flash or (Oracle) Java-based? (Another way to put this, is "Can your materials be watched on an iPad?")

Content created in Flash and or Java can be inaccessible and may not run on mobile devices and tablets, which are becoming more prevalent. Embedding files into Moodle is a way to work around this issue so that students can access the files more easily. Linking to files can cause issues if students do not have the software on their computer.

Does any software need to be installed on student or CGCC computers?

If software needs to be installed on CGCC computers in a particular lab, consult with that the IT department.

How will students get access to the materials?

Does it require an access code? If so, students should be aware that used books may not have the necessary access code or may have an old unusable code.

Can the electronic content be made available for purchase through the bookstore?

Some students would like to own the material so they have it for future reference (rather than just online during the term.)

Material on this page was adapted from information at Portland Community College.