Difficulty scale (in terms of creation and students support): LOW


Why would I want to deliver this type of material online?

Providing readings to your students in the online environment gives students the ability to access their content material 24/7 and reduces the number of individual inquiries instructors have to manage to get students articles when they have missed class.  It also allows for easy distribution of materials creating variety in your course content.  Finally, providing online readings rather than purchased textbooks can help reduce costs to students.


What are the most common formats?

The best way to distribute article in Desire2Learn is through PDF (Portable Document Format).  PDFs are typically created and viewed using Adobe Acrobat products.

Course readings can be acquired in several ways.  Here are the three most common:

  1. Articles (usually in PDF format) can be downloaded from a library database or website
  2. Paper copy of journal/magazine articles or book chapter can be scanned to PDF
  3. Textual materials can be created in a word processing program and converted to PDF


What are the important considerations for this type of digital content?


Most readings are borrowed from other sources.  As a result, copyright is an important consideration.  The UWM Libraries can assist with questions regarding copyright at copyright@uwm.edu.  They also provide several guides for copyright considerations:





As with all digital content accessibility is an important consideration.  Not only is it important to ensure that materials are accessible to students with disabilities, it is also important for students using mobile devices.

All PDF documents should be able to be read by screen readers.  This means that the PDF cannot be simply an image of the text; it must be actual text that has readable characters.  If your PDF is an image, you can use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to convert it to text using Adobe Acrobat software below.  To determine if your PDF is text or image, see the tutorials section below.


What software will I need?

To create materials:

Adobe Acrobat Professional can create PDF documents.  It can also perform OCR (Optical Character Recognition) on text documents that have been scanned as images.

Adobe Acrobat Professional be purchased through WISC – Wisconsin Integrated Software Catalog http://wiscsoftware.wisc.edu/wisc/  Another option is CutePDF Writer (Freeware) http://www.cutepdf.com/products/cutepdf/writer.asp

You may need word processing software, like Microsoft Word to edit or create textual materials.  Microsoft Word 2007 (or Mac OSX) will convert documents to PDF format.

If the material in its original format is an image and must be edited in order to make it appropriate for your course, you can perform OCR on the text using Adobe Acrobat and then copy and paste text into word processing software to editing.


To access materials:

PDFs can be viewed using Adobe Reader http://get.adobe.com/reader/


What hardware or additional tools will I need?

You will need a scanner to convert physical documents (like newspapers, magazines or books) into digital format.  Many departments on campus have copy equipment that can also be used to scan materials to PDF format.  You should check with your department first to see if this equipment is available to you.

Another option would be to use a personal scanner.  More information can be found below in tutorials and training.


What training or tutorials will I need?

How do I find an article?

Information Literacy (UWM Libraries: http://guides.library.uwm.edu/infolit)  This tutorial includes:

  • How do I search?
  • What sources should I use?
  • How do I find books?
  • How do I find articles?
  • Can I use the web?
  • How do I site sources?

Notes: This was created for students.  The modules may be too simple for instructor needs, for example, the how do I find articles doesn’t really talk about different databases and how to search.  However, this will give you a good basic introduction to library databases.


Faculty and Staff Guide to the UWM Libraries (http://guides.library.uwm.edu/content.php?pid=141291&sid=1696456 )

This resource includes basics for choosing an article database.  It includes information on the Findit service available throughout the library website as well as Google Scholar.  It also include information on where to find more help.

More information can be obtained from library staff: http://www4.uwm.edu/libraries/ask/


How do I scan materials?

The Library offers access to combination photocopier/scanners: http://www4.uwm.edu/libraries/about/amenities.cfm#copiers

These machines provide the option to scan multiple-page materials as PDF documents.  There is no charge for scanning PDF document.  Once scanned, the PDFs can be uploaded to D2L.

The scanned PDF will be an image, not text.  As is, these PDFs are not searchable and are not accessible by screen readers.  To make your PDF searchable and accessible, you can perform Optical Character Recognition (OCR) using Adobe Acrobat. http://uwmltc.org/?p=6525

More information on scanning articles or book chapters as PDFs for access in D2L can be found here: http://uwmltc.org/?p=6525


How do I know if my PDF is an image or text?

Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat and select the [Select Tool].  Drag the mouse across the text.  Of it just creates a rectangle rather than highlighting individual words then it’s an image.