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Make use of existing content

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In the classroom, you are used to helping students engage with content. Carefully select the content you choose to share online with your students so as not to overwhelm them.

Copyright and Intellectual Property

1. Prioritize your content between what is essential and what is nice to have

You will likely feel that you have a lot of material to cover in your course. This will need to be weighed against considerations for prioritizing content that will be assessed in your graded assignments and exams. Clearly demarcate essential content to show students what is most important for their learning.


Best practices

  • Emphasize essential content and propose higher-order thinking activities to help students absorb the material.
  • Consider what resources are already available that can be shared with your students.  (e.g. websites, videos, articles, previously created lecture slides)
  • When sharing external content, there are important considerations to consider, refer to Recommendation 2: Follow relevant guidelines about copyright and intellectual property

2. Follow relevant guidelines about copyright and intellectual property

With so much material available online for educational use, it is possible to rely on materials from other sources to augment your course content. However, it is important to be mindful of considerations of copyright and intellectual property when sharing material that you have not created yourself.

Best practices

  • When using or sharing materials not created by you, be sure to appropriately credit the original author (e.g. author/organization name, date, and link to original source).
  • If you are creating new materials for your course, consider adding a Creative Commons license to your work so it can be shared with and used by others without the need to request permission for reuse.
  • When sharing course content online be aware of and apply York’s Fair Dealing Guidelines.
  • If you have uploaded content you have created yourself, such as lecture notes or slides, ensure students are aware of your intellectual property rights.

3. Complement existing material with royalty-free tools and resources

Developing an online course is not an all-or-nothing endeavour. With a little technical efficacy, ingenuity, and courage, existing materials can easily be expanded and combined with newly developed content.


  • Use free image/photo editors to refine your visual elements, including Gimp, PicsArt (free in the MS App Store), Photo Pos Pro, or Paint.NET.
  • Create sophisticated infographics, charts, and posters with Piktochart (free option is available).
  • Use your webcam or cellphone to shoot simple, effective snippets of video (e.g., for introduction).
  • Use free video editors to polish your videos, including OpenShot, VSDC, Kdenlive, DaVinci Resolve, or Blender.
  • To learn about open access resources (OER): OER toolkit


Best practices

Creative Commons License

© Blended and Online Learning (BOLD), Teaching Commons & Learning Technology Services, York University. Unless otherwise stated, all content on the Going Remote - York University site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical 4.0 International license. If you reuse this work, please attribute BOLD, York University and include a link to

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