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Selecting Learning Resource Materials


When developing or reviewing curriculum we need to ensure that learning resources support the learning activities and/or the evaluation and assessment planned for the course. They also need to align with the needs, interests and abilities of the learners.

Learning materials may be developed or selected from existing resources. As developments in cognitive science have helped us understand more about how learners construct knowledge, there has been a growing trend towards the greater use of raw data, primary sources and manipulative and interactive learning resource materials.

Choosing the right textbook

For a long time textbooks were the major learning resource in most college courses. With the growth of multimedia and other resource materials teachers need to decide what place textbooks will have in the teaching of a course. Here are some sites that might help you choose the right textbook for your course or program.

This rubric for selecting textbooks may help you identify the criteria to be considered when choosing a textbook for your course or program.

Queen’s University Nursing Program offers these criteria for selecting a textbook.  Although developed for a nursing program they are applicable across most postsecondary programs.

Evaluating websites

More and more students (and teachers too) are turning to the Internet as a source of information. However, as we know, not all sites are created equal. Here are some tips for evaluating websites.

Virginia Tech has developed a checklist for evaluating internet sources.

At this Teacher TAP website you will find criteria for assessing Internet resources and can also engage in a WebQuest exercise to learn more about this topic.

This site provides an overview of the legislation requiring websites to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. You will find a free tutorial here on designing websites that meet the Web Content for Accessibilities Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). 

Jacqueline Towell from Durham College and Erica Baker-Tinsley from Loyalist College developed a very useful "Starter Kit" to assist teachers as they implement Universal Design for Learning principles. You will find here much useful information as well as links to other resources.

The AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) Legislation now requires all web materials to meet standards for accessibility. These are called Web Content for Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). This web checker will review your website and assess whether or not it meets these standards. 

Finding and Using Multimedia Resources

With a greater number if "digital natives" in our college classrooms, the expectation for interactive and multimedia learning resources is growing. This, of course, is a topic beyond the scope of this site. However, here are some sites to begin an exploration.

This is a great site to explore the use of learning objects. It was developed by four adult educators who met while taking a Master's course in distance education at Athabasca University. You will find here information about learning objects, links to repositories, tools and a discussion of issues around the use of learning objects.

This is the online version of The Instructional Use of Learning Objects, a book that tries to go beyond the technological hype and connect learning objects to instruction and learning. You can read the full text of the book here for free.

Education World has compiled a site with links to information about the educational use of podcasts.

You can download a pdf file with an article on podcasting from Educause at

You will find a podcast tutorial here.

Check out this list of technological solutions documented by Durham College.

Questions to consider when choosing, developing or assessing learning materials

  • Are there sufficient learning resources identified to help learners achieve the expected learning?
  • Are the learning materials appropriate to the learners' needs, interests and abilities?
  • Do learners have an opportunity to work with primary sources and authentic (real world) materials?
  • Are learning materials focused? Do they target the key concepts and skills to be learned?
  • Are the learning materials available at a reasonable cost?
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