Course Readings

What is the Course Readings Tool?

The Course Readings Service was developed by Western Libraries and is offered both as a plugin integrated with OWL and as a web platform. The Service allows instructors to request and manage course readings such as library reserves, custom course books, journal articles, book chapters, links, documents, audio-visual materials, etc. Through the Syllabus Service instructors can upload their course syllabus and Library Staff will create Course Readings entries for items listed in the document.

What is the purpose of the Course Readings Tool?

The Course Readings Service serves two key purposes. First, it aids instructors collecting and managing their course materials. Through the Service, instructors can quickly access Western Libraries support for putting together course materials (such as support from Staff for obtaining copyright clearance and setting up links). Second, it aids students in accessing and managing their engagement with course materials. Through the Service, students are provided direct access to instructor-selected course materials. Aspects of the tool enable students to manage the time spent on engaging with such materials.  

How to use the Course Readings Tool

Through the Course Readings Service, instructors can add course readings (either manually or by uploading a course syllabus with a readings list) to their course OWL site. Instructors create a list of course readings and library staff then build a course library for the instructor (i.e. they verify web files and their URLs, process physical items for the course reserves collection, and upload scanned chapters, articles and excerpts as accessible PDFs). Course materials can be text-based (such as books, journal articles, book chapters, websites, etc.) or multimedia-based (i.e. audio or video resources). Instructors can organize readings by folders and/or tags.

Students use the tool to access the course materials provided by their instructors for enrolled courses. They can make use of time management tools to organize their readings, create personalized to do lists, and in general, manage the demands of multiple courses. For more visit the Course Readings Service Western Libraries support page for accessing the service, adding course readings, using the syllabus service and more.

Course Readings Tool Resources Tool
  • Request item processing from Western Libraries or The Book Store at Western.
  • Import items instantly from previous courses.
  • The library will ensure online availability of items wherever possible, including scanning book chapters and articles.
  • Library-created items will be Copyright and AODA compliant.
  • Links to library resources such as e-books and journal articles will not require an additional login.
  • Drag & drop to organize your reading list according to your course schedule.
  • Instructors and students can add tags to items.
  • View live status information on requests in process.
  • Upload documents, images, lecture notes, and other items.
  • Integrate item uploads into lesson pages.

Tool Evaluation

Evaluated: August 2017

Functionality overall rating: 3 starFunctionality

Rating Rationale
Scale rating: 3 star


The Course Readings Service can be scaled to accommodate any size class with the flexibility to organize reading by smaller sub-groups or weeks through either folders or tags

Ease of use rating: 3 stars

Ease of Use

The Course Readings Service has a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate and personalize

Tech Support/ Help Availability rating: 3 stars

Tech Support/Help Availability

In-person or email based technical support from Western Libraries Staff is readily available and aids users in troubleshooting tasks or solving problems experienced. See Course Readings Service for contact information

Hypermediality rating: 3 stars


The Course Readings Service allows various forms of media to be shared with students (not only text based readings but also a variety of audio-visual materials) and allows for non-sequential, flexible/adaptive engagement with material

Accessibility overall rating: 3 starsAccessibility

Rating Rationale
AODA Friendly rating: 3 stars

AODA Friendly

The Course Readings Service fully supports compliance with AODA standards for accessibility (W3 WAI), and makes it easy for materials to be made AODA-friendly. Both the software and content added are AODA compliant. Resources added by Libraries Staff are made to be accessible before upload (i.e. PDFs are made to be searchable and readable).

Assistive Technology rating: 3 stars

User-focused participation

Given an instructor’s consideration to including various forms of media in their course “readings” list, the tool is designed to address the needs of diverse users, their various literacies, and capabilities, thereby widening opportunities for participation in learning

Required Equipment rating: 3 stars

Required Equipment

Proper use of the tool does not require equipment other than a computer and access to the internet

Technical overall rating: 3 starsTechnical

Rating Rationale
Integration/Embedding within OWL rating: 1 stars

Integration/Embedding within OWL

The Course Readings Service is a plugin tool embedded and fully integrated with OWL (add to OWL via Site Info > Edit Tools >Plugin Tools) . However for those courses on campus not using OW , there is also web login access to the tool. See Course Readings Login

Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Operating Systems

Users can effectively utilize The Course Readings Service with any standard, up-to-date operating system (i.e. Windows 10, Apple OSX, etc.)

Web Browser rating: 3 stars

Web Browser

Users can effectively utilize The Course Readings Service with any standard, up-to-date web browser (i.e. Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer 10 etc.)

Additional Technical Requirements rating: 3 stars

Additional Technical Requirements

Users can effectively utilize The Course Readings Service without any browser extensions or downloaded software

Mobile Design overall rating: 2 starMobile Design

Rating Rationale
Mobile Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Mobile Operating Systems

The Course Readings Service is fully functional with a range of electronic mobile devices (laptops, tablets, touchscreens, mobile devices, etc.)

Mobile Functionality rating: 2 stars

Mobile Functionality

Due to the types of materials accessed through the Course Readings Service, users may find they prefer to engage with the content with larger screens.

Offline Access rating: 2 star

Offline Access

A PDF download of a course readings list is available enabling access to the The Course Readings Service content when offline.

Usage and account set up overall rating: 3 starUsage and Account Set Up

Rating Rationale
Sign Up/Sign In rating: 3 stars

Sign Up/Sign In

Use of The Course Readings Service does not require the creation of an external account or additional login beyond a Western Identity. An off-campus login to the Course Readings Service also enables login to off-campus access to Western Libraries.

Cost of Use rating: 3 stars

Cost of Use

All aspects of The Course Readings Service can be used free of charge

Archiving Saving and Exporting Data rating: 3 stars

Archiving, Saving, and Exporting Data

The Course Readings Service supports archiving, saving, or importing and exporting content or activity data in a variety of formats. Microsoft Word or PDF files are recommended for the Syllabus Service. A PDF download of course readings lists enables export of content.

Data Privacy and Ownership rating: 3 stars

Data Privacy and Ownership

Materials included in The Course Readings Service are passed through Western Libraries copyright clearance on the instructor’s behalf. Any associated royalties and copyright fees are handled by Western Libraries.

Social Presence overall rating: 2 starsSocial Presence

Rating Rationale
Collaboration rating: 2 stars


Through tags, The Course Readings Service has the capacity to support a community of learning through asynchronous but not synchronous opportunities for communication, interactivity, and transfer of meaning between users

User Accountability rating: 3 stars

User Accountability

User accountability and anonymity is not a concern within The Course Readings Service; The tool provides technical solutions for restricting access to registered instructors and students enrolled in the course.

Diffusion rating: 3 stars


The Course Readings Service is utilized by a variety of courses across campus. It’s likely that students are either already familiar with the tool or can readily use the tool without technical training on its features.

Instructor Presence overall rating: 2 starsInstructor Presence

Rating Rationale
Facilitation rating: 3 stars


The Course Readings Service has easy-to-use features that would significantly improve an instructor’s ability to manage and monitor course readings. The service allows instructors to link students directly to the course readings and monitor aggregated data on student engagement (see Learning Analytics below)

Customization rating: 3 stars


The Course Readings Service is adaptable and is easily customized to suit the classroom context and targeted learning outcomes (i.e. through tailored course readings lists, through Western Libraries support, and through the Syllabus Service)

Learning Analytics rating:2 stars

Learning Analytics

An Instructor can monitor students’ access of course materials through aggregate data (i.e. 20 students have clicked on a specific reading). The Course Readings Service does not allow the instructor to track individual students’ completion of readings.

Cognitive Presence overall rating: 2 starsCognitive Presence

Rating Rationale
Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s) rating: 3 stars

Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s)

Through it’s features that allow students to organize readings across multiple courses and develop personalized to do lists, The Course Readings Service may enhance engagement in the targeted cognitive task(s) of managing one’s learning in a way in a novel manner

Higher Order Thinking rating: 2 stars

Higher Order Thinking

The Course Readings Service may enable students to engage in higher order thinking skills through the organization and availability of course readings (given significant consideration to design, facilitation, and direction from instructor through features such as folders and tags)

Feedback on Learning rating: 2 stars

Feedback on Learning

Through it’s features that allow students to organize readings across multiple courses and develop personalized to do lists, opportunities for tracking performance may provide students with feedback on their learning.

View the rubric for an explanation of this evaluation
Leave feedback to comment or request that the tool be re-reviewed

Related Information

Additional Resources