Content Delivery - Textbooks

Overview | Tips | Shortcomings | Technology required | Resources

Textbooks have been one of the most common avenues to deliver instruction in traditional courses. While traditional textbooks can also be quite effective for online courses, some textbooks are offered in digital format, either as an eText (refer to the eText section) or as a digital book.

The content of some textbooks have been specifically design to meet the learning objectives and academic standards of particular courses. However, some courses might require two or more textbooks to cover all of their objectives.


  • If possible, consider using a digital version of your textbook. There are several free online textbooks in many disciplines. Moreover, Indiana University students have free access to Books 24/7 which includes a vast amount of books in multiple areas.

  • Find out whether students will need to buy the latest edition of the textbook; otherwise, specify the earliest edition they should get. However, keep in mind that when allowing students using multiple editions, it might be harder to specify page numbers to locate specific content since they might vary among editions.

  • If using paper textbooks, it is highly recommended to order them way in advance from IU bookstores in order to have them available to your students on time.

  • Provide the bibliographic information of the textbooks to your students at least two weeks before the course starts.



  • Cost: Textbooks can be quite expensive, especially when they are new.

  • Lack of interactivity: Since passive reading is the main type of interaction with textbooks, additional activities are recommended to allow students to put into practice the content read.


While paper-based textbooks do not require any technology, digital textbooks require an Internet connection and a text reader such as Acrobat PDF.