Course Readings

What is Course Readings

The Course Readings Service was developed by Western Libraries and is offered both as a plugin integrated with OWL Sakai and OWL Brightspace 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 Western Libraries staff will create Course Readings entries for items listed in the document.

What is the purpose of Course Readings

The Course Readings tool 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 creating 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 Course Readings

Through Course Readings, instructors can add assigned readings (either manually or by uploading a course syllabus with a readings list) to their course OWL site. Instructors create a list of 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, 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 Western Libraries support page for accessing the service, adding course readings, using the syllabus service, and more.

Where to find Support

This tool is centrally supported


Course Readings is supported by WTS and Western Libraries in both OWL Sakai and OWL Brightspace.


For additional help using Course Readings, contact

Tool Evaluation

Functionality overall rating: 3 starsFunctionality

Rating Rationale
Scale rating: 3 stars


The tool can be scaled to accommodate any size class with the flexibility to create smaller sub-groups or communities of practice

Ease of use rating:3 stars

Ease of Use

The tool 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 is readily available and aids users in troubleshooting tasks or solving problems experienced

Hypermediality rating: 3 stars


The tool allows users to communicate through different channels (audio, visual, textual) 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 tool fully supports compliance with AODA standards for accessibility (W3 WAI), and makes it easy for materials to be made AODA-friendly

User Foused Participation rating: 3 stars

User-focused participation

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
OWL Integration rating: 3 stars

OWL Integration

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 tool 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 tool with any standard, up-to-date web browser (i.e. Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer 10 etc.)

Additional Tech Requirements rating: 3 stars

Additional Tech Requirements

Users can effectively utilize the tool without any browser extensions or downloaded software

Mobile Design overall rating: 2 star Mobile Design

Rating Rationale
Mobile Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Mobile Operating Systems

The tool 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 starsUsage 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 tool can be used free of charge

Archiving Saving and Exporting Data rating: 3 star

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 star

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 star


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.

Security and Privacy

Security and Privacy Flags

Information Collection

  • Application collects information that could identify the user specifically (email address, class schedule, etc..)


  • Application's Terms of Conditions or End User License Agreement poses a risk of binding the institution to an agreement thereby requiring legal counsel to review the application. However, this is mitigated as it has undergone legal review during the Technology Risk Assessment process.

Last Updated: February 28, 2024


The eLearning Toolkit Evaluations are made available under the terms of the CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence


Leave feedback to comment or request that the tool be re-reviewed


Ratings icons are based off images made by authors on Freepik, Zurb, and Icomoon and licensed by CC BY 3.0