Making a digital reader

Decorative image of a reader

Photo credit: cohdra from

I still have gargantuan readers from my two favorite undergraduate courses. These monsters were painstakingly pieced together, article by article. Articles must have been added each year the class was taught, articles taken away as they became less relevant (hopefully), and of course, every contributing author was contacted and a price paid for the inclusion of their work and deservedly so—these beasts were over $90 bucks in 1999!

As I set out to teach my first course last fall, I also painstakingly pieced together my reader, but this one’s all digital. Videos, articles, and audio files from open educational resources (OER)—if I could find them.  I relied on my own creations when Internet searches came up short: videos made with Camtasia or sound files saved on SoundCloud. Publishers definitely have enticing offers for educators in almost any subject but consider taking a look at OER resources before you send that textbook order to the bookstore:

OER Consortium



The resources above are “open” but perhaps you would like to use copyrighted materials. For these, you may want to become familiar with fair use guidelines and the Teach Act. If you are using the copyrighted material for your class, it’s usually ok if you are:

  • not making money off it
  • limiting the time students have to access it
  • only allowing enrolled students to see it
  • using only a portion (e.g., 10% of videos, 10% of original text, 10% of original music, up to 5 images from 1 artist)

If you are using more than those shares, attempt to find the rightful owner and ask permission.