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Open & Affordable Textbooks: Integrate

Content Organizer

Use this template to organize your zero-cost resources as you go, and align them with your course topics.

You can make your own copy of the document by going to File > Make a Copy.

Integrating into Canvas

Canvas logo

Best practice for integrating open and library-licensed materials into your Canvas course is always to link and attribute. Online resources make this convenient because you can link to the whole text at the beginning of class, and also link to individual chapters or sections in your syllabus or calendar section on your Canvas course if you choose, making it easy for students to know what to read for each class.

Linking: You'll want to make sure you're using a permanent link. For open resources, this can be the URL for the page, but sometimes (particularly for library-licensed content) you'll need a stable link that is different from the URL for the page.

For library-licensed content such as article in databases or ebooks, an easy way to link to the item is to provide the link in the library catalog record for the item.

Tip: use "ti:" before your search terms in order to get only results with those words in the title of the item.

Once you've located the resource you want to include in your course, click on the box on the right of the record that says "Share." Click the "copy link" button and paste it into your Canvas course.

Students will use that link to come back to this page, and then use the View Full Text button to access the resource itself. If you're off-campus when accessing, you'll be prompted to sign in with your Marian username and password before accessing the resource. 

Contact your library liaison with any questions. 


Creative Commons logo

Attributing: Open textbooks (and other OERs) will usually have a Creative Commons (CC) license. Be sure to include this license information when you provide your link to the full textbook, or to any separate articles or resources you're using. You do not have to provide the license with every chapter link if you've already provided it with the link to the full textbook (though you are always welcome to). 

Use this attribution builder from Open Washington to quickly create attributions for resources under a Creative Commons license.


Human Resource Management by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Print options for students

Some students like to be able to use a physical book. With open resources, users have been given permission to print and modify the text as they need, so print is still an option. If your chosen open text(s) have an ISBN, the bookstore can print them for a fee. Check with the bookstore after you've communicated your textbook choice to see if this is an option. Make sure that the bookstore lists both the print option and the line, "Free open educational resources are required for this course. Please see your instructor," so that all students know what options are available to them.  

Not all open texts will be able to be printed by the bookstore. If this is the case, students can order their own print copies of a text by going to

For library-licensed resources that are DRM-free or have unlimited printing and downloading, such as the resources listed in the Finding resources tab, printing the whole work is still an option. 


Leveling up student engagement

Want the myriad of benefits annotating content brings to student learning, but in an online format? Check out and Perusall, social annotation tools. an open web annotation tool that allows students add line-by-line highlights and comments on any text content on the web. Annotating library-licensed ebooks on the web is sometimes tricky, but using on open textbooks with HTML is very easy to do. You can post comments publicly or privately, form an annotation group for just your class, or students can form small groups to comment on and engage with content. Some content providers are already embedding the tool into their platforms.

Interested? Create a free account and start annotating


Perusall is another free annotation tool that uses a social media-like interface to allow students to respond and engage with online texts, PDFs, and other formats, all synced to your LMS.

Want a quick comparison between and Perusall? See this short presentation.


If students are using downloaded PDFs of OERs or library-licensed materials, they can highlight and comment in both Adobe Reader (for PC or Macs) and Preview (for Macs).

About the project | H5P

Looking for an easy way to add interactive content and self-assessment to your course? Try H5P. It's a platform that allows for easy creation of interactive web content, without you having to be a coding whiz. You can create things like interactive videos, quizzes, presentations, activities, and more.


Looking for more tech tools? Visit PALNI's Tech Tools list to search for instructional tools, grouped by category. 

Open Pedagogy

Looking to leverage the power of open textbooks to give your students and yourself more flexibility and freedom? Open pedagogy could be a good practice for you. Open pedagogy sees education as a collaborative endeavor, and focuses on students and faculty both learning from each other, along with projects that impact real communities. Check out this 30-minute presentation to learn more. 

Open Pedagogy: What

Source: "Free + Freedom: The Role of Open Pedagogy in the Open Education Movement" by Rajiv Jhangiani and Robin DeRosa


How to provide attribution to this guide: "Affordable Textbooks" by Caitlin Balgeman, Marian University is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0