Best practices in Developing Engaging Instructional Materials

While you may be able to find plenty of valuable resources created by others to add to your course, it’s also a good idea to create your own materials and present concepts to your students in your own words and voice. There are a variety of tools you can use to record mini-lectures (see the table below). 

Regardless of the media and technology you use, the following best practice principles can guide instructor strategies for developing engaging lectures and other resources for your online course. 

Click each item to learn more.

Apply to your course: Resources & Tools 

There are several ways you can integrate engaging learning materials into your course. See the chart below for ideas and resources for accessing them. 

Content Type


Tools/ Resources

Digital Course Reserve 

Digital Course Reserves are digital course materials which the UMass Amherst Library has reserved for use in a specific class.

  • Scans of book chapters and journal articles
  • Links to databases and e-books

These also include audiovisual materials, such as streaming film and music.

  • The material is freely available and accessible for students 24/7 from anywhere 
  • For more information on UMass Library Course Reserves, visit UMass Library Course Reserves 

Recorded Mini-Lectures

Recorded Mini-Lectures Lecturing is another common method for delivering course content in person or online, during synchronous or asynchronous sessions.

  • For live, synchronous lectures, Zoom is the most commonly used platform.
  • For asynchronous lectures, you can use Echo360, Canvas Studio or VoiceThread – which is a more interactive tool that allows for students to comment on and respond to the lecture with text, video, etc.
  • Echo360 
  • VoiceThread
  • Zoom 
  • Canvas Studio


Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Educational Resources are educational materials and tools offered freely for anyone to use and—under some licenses—to re-mix, improve and redistribute. They include: 

  • Learning content: full courses and modules, textbooks, lectures/ tutorials, collections, and journals. 
  • Tools: software to support the creation, delivery and improvement of open learning content.
  • Implementation resources: Intellectual property licenses to promote open publishing of materials, design-principles, and localization of content.


Angelo, T. A., & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Bergquist, E., & Holbeck, R. (2014). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Conceptual Model for CATs in the Online Classroom. Journal of Instructional Research, 3, 3-7.

Brown University: Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning. Designing Grading Rubrics.

Douglas, T. A., Mather, C. A., Earwaker, L. A., James, A. J., & Murray, S. L. (2020). Supporting digital engage a Guide for effective development and facilitation of online discussion boards. Journal of Applied Learning & Teaching, 3(1), 1-10.

The K. Patricia Cross Academy. Techniques Video Library.

TeacherStream LLC. (2010). Mastering online discussion board facilitation.

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (1998). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

How to cite this page:

UMass Amherst IDEAS Team. (2024, April). Develop Engaging Instructional Materials.