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About Reusable Objects

Teaching online, like teaching face-to-face, is an ever-evolving process. Creating and maintaining a repository of materials in the Content Collection can make the latest educational materials and research available across your department or the entire institution.

You can access, incorporate, and share course elements and content using reusable objects. Reusable objects are course elements, such as assignment instructions or discussion topics, that you create and store within the Content Collection so that they are available for your use across multiple courses. You can also opt to share your reusable objects with other users.

Your institution controls whether this tool and select features are available.

When you are building content in your course, you use the Discover Content function to add reusable objects to areas of your course where they are available, such as the discussion board, the Grade Center, and content areas.

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Reusable objects enable you to efficiently reuse content in multiple courses or share it with others. Examples include:

  • Slide decks that colleagues need for monthly department presentations.
  • Policies that apply to all courses in your department—edits made to the policies file in the Content Collection will be reflected in all courses where you and others have linked to it.
  • Course items that you spend significant time creating, such as:
    • Drill-and-practice exercises.
    • Demonstrations and models.
    • Overviews and summaries.
    • Instructions and guidelines for a term papers and presentations.
    • Multimedia and web resources.

Reusable Object Categories

In the Content Collection, when you create reusable objects, you choose a category. You can use the content editor functions to create all of them except External Link. To learn more about creating reusable objects, see Discovering Reusable Objects Content.

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The categories are provided to help you and others organize the content. Categories make it easier to find what you need at a later time. The categories also determine how the content appears in your course. For example, HTML Objects and External Links appear as links, but course content reusable objects appear as if you added a content item in a content area.

In the learning objects catalog, you can view five reusable object categories. External Links are not available to view. In the Content Collection, External Links appear only in the folder you created them in. To learn more, see How to View a List of Reusable Objects in the Learning Objects Catalog.

The following table describes the six categories of reusable objects.

Categories and Descriptions of Reusable Objects
Category Description and Uses
Assignment When you create an assignment, you can link to an assignment reusable object you created in the Content Collection.

If you use the Insert File option in the content editor, the assignment information appears in the content area. You cannot edit the assignment reusable object information from the content area, but you can ADD to the information that appears as the description. 

If you use the Browse Content Collection function below the content editor, students must click a link to access the information. For both attachment workflows, be sure to choose the option to Give users access to this file only, and name the link title as needed.

For example, create basic guidelines you want students to follow for all assignments they submit. Then, link to this information when you create each assignment.

Course Content You can create content in the Content Collection and add to your course like a content item. For example, create a course overview with a link to a slide presentation, a list of topics, and an image. When you add it to your course, all the elements appear in the content area, and you can add a title.

You can edit the elements of a course content reusable object in the content area. This allows you to use the same basic content in a syllabus you want to use in several courses. You can simply change the list of topics or pertinent due dates.

Discussion Topic When you create forums, click Discover Content on the action bar to link to discussion topic reusable objects you created in the Content Collection. After you select one, the Create Forum page appears with the reusable information in the content editor. While in the discussion board tool, you are allowed to edit the content and settings.

For example, create a discussion topic reusable object that introduces the speaker, details discussion etiquette, asks students to generate a list of questions, and explains what you want them to do as a followup. You can reuse this information with minor edits whenever you invite a guest to speak.

Though Discover Content appears on the action bar when creating a thread, this function is for forums only. If you add a discussion topc reusable object while creating a thread, it will appear at the bottom of the list on the forum listing page.

External Link You can create a link to web content outside your course by adding a URL to the Content Collection. For example, you want students to check the same website once a week and comment on the latest stories in a course blog or in the discussion board. You can save the URL once and link to it weekly in a new entry or forum.

In your course, the External Link option does not appear in the Discover Content drop-down list on the action bar when browsing for reusable objects to add. When you create content, if available, click Browse Content Collection to add it as a file attachment. Or, use the Insert File option in the content editor and browse the Content Collection for the link. When students click the link in your course, the content will open in a new window or tab. If you create the File content type, you must select the open in a new window option.

In the Content Collection, you will also see a Link function on the action bar. The workflow is the same.

Grade Center When you create Grade Center columns, click Discover Content on the action bar to access the list of Grade Center reusable objects you created in the Content Collection. After you select one, the Create Grade Column page appears with the reusable information in the content editor. You can edit this information while in the Grade Center.

The information in the description appears to students in My Grades.

For example, you can include information about your grading scale for participation. The information is readily available to add when you create the column and award those points once a week.

HTML Object HTML objects are stored as file attachments. You can create links to information that you want to use in multiple areas in your course or in multiple courses.

For example, create an HTML object and add the due dates for all graded work. Link to this information in several of your content areas, such as Getting Started, Assignments, and Assessments so students can access relevant dates alongside content.

If you are allowed to edit a reusable object while inside your course, the content only changes for that instance. The original reusable object does not change in the Content Collection. You can customize information for different courses, but retain your master file.