Deploy course materials

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Image courtesy of Montrasio International

Some institutions have a particular learning management system, or LMS (Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Moodle etc.) that teachers are required to use in their teaching. With the exception of Moodle and a few others (see Course Management programs for a list), most courses in an LMS are password protected, preventing the material from being accessed openly by students outside the formal course. In some cases, Fair Use[1] and the TEACH Act allows you to make use of copyrighted materials you don't have permission to use in online courses that are password protected, but as mentioned in the Introduction, Fair Use can be difficult to determine, and is mostly only relevant in the USA.

When using openly licensed content, to be safe, you should abide by the license of any materials you use in your courses whether they are behind password protection or not. For example, you should not use material licensed with a Noncommercial clause for commercial purposes, even if the use is in Blackboard or similar LMS. However, it should be noted that Fair Use still applies to openly licensed material.

The exact method of uploading material is highly specific to the LMS. If you have the content combined as an IMS Content Package (see File Formats in Find OER) the process of uploading an entire course will be easier than manually adding each page through the LMS's interface. However, if you do not have an IMS or similar package, you may have to upload each object individually. Talk with your institution's IT staff if you have not uploaded a course previously and need support.

One of the best things you can do to prepare for uploading course materials is to have each file meaningfully named and the folders arranged in logical manner. For example, if you have a fifteen week course, you might create a folder for each week and place the corresponding materials in each week's folder. Images would have file names such as "Hopi_woman.jpg" or "red_brick_schoolhouse.png," as opposed to "imag1.tiff" or "Old_picture.jpg."