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Engage - Best Practices for Instructors [UW-Madison]

This document is for instructors utilizing an Engage eText or publisher Digital Learning Tool (DLT). It provides some best practices when interacting with and thinking about your eText/DLT, including around how to communicate with your students.

If you would like to learn ways to make your course accessible, please review this guide.

Understand the concept of eTexts and DLTs, as well as the key features they provide

Positive student perceptions of eTexts and DLTs, and the resulting academic engagement and success, are predicated by instructor ability to explain and/or demonstrate a clear and thoughtful decision to use Engage digital materials instead of traditional paper materials. An overview of the eReader can be found in this document. Publishers should have information regarding features for their specific tools.

Introduce eTexts/DLTs to students proactively

  • Please consider adding a statement about the use of eTexts or Digital Learning Tools (DLT) to your syllabus and posting it as an announcement to your students 1-2 weeks before the first day of class.
    • Example syllabus language on the use of Engage is available here.
      • A list of system requirements for Engage eTexts can be found here.
    • Example language on the use of a DLT is available here.
      • Publishers should have their own information about system requirements that can be passed along to students.
  • Instructors are encouraged to provide a brief overview of the benefits of using Engage, how to access the eText/DLT, and how the materials are paid for.
    • eTexts can be accessed by following the directions here, while DLTs can be accessed through the publisher’s tool integration in Canvas.
A basic overview of the fees and refunds can be reviewed in this document. The fees for eTexts/DLTs are bundled into the students’ tuition bill automatically. This includes a $3 fee per title for eTexts, assessed by Unizin for the implementation of RedShelf. Sales tax (5.5%) will also be assessed by the Bursar’s Office and added as a separate line item on students’ tuition bills. 
  • Students can opt-out of the digital materials if they so choose, though it’s recommended they speak with you prior to doing so.
  • Students can also check their tuition bill to review the Engage fees via their Student Center.

Enhance the eText

Take advantage of the Engage eReader features allowing you to:

Promote early engagement in the text

Help students practice navigating their digital materials:
  • Open the course early so they can review the eText or DLT before class starts.
  • Include documentation in your syllabus or in your course that helps students with usage and support. McBurney also provides sample syllabus language surrounding accessibility here.

Be open to discussing why you chose to use eTexts/DLTs with your students

  • Promote the key features your students may not know or understand (for DLTs, publishers may keep their own lists).
  • Share the University interest in providing well-below market cost materials and ease of access for all students in a class.
  • Ask students to let you know if they are opting out or need accommodations (some students may need to get an accessible version through the McBurney Disability Resource Center).
    • Opt-out procedures and guidelines can be found in this document.
    • If you are using the same eText across semesters, students who have purchased the eText in the past will not be charged for it again; however, if you use a new edition, it is considered a different eText and students will be charged for that. Students can still access their previously purchased content but should opt-out to avoid being charged again (if using the older edition will suffice). 

Inform your students how the DLT will be used in your course.

  • If you are using a publisher Digital Learning Tool (DLT) like Cengage MindTap or Pearson MyLab and Mastering, be sure to inform your students how the DLT will be used in your course. 
    • If students have support questions related to use of the DLT, refer them to the publisher for support. 
    • If students have issues accessing the DLT, they should contact the publisher for support; they should not purchase access from the publisher directly
    • More information on where to go for publisher support can be found here.

Merging Sections that use Engage eTexts/DLTs

  • Instructors can merge sections of Canvas courses that are using the same Engage eText/DLT by following the process outlined in Canvas - Crosslisting/Merging a Canvas Course (UW-Madison).
    • Please be sure to not merge sections of a course that are using an eText/DLT with sections that are not.


  • If you are using Engage for your eText let students know they can print up to 50 pages at a time, for free (not including the cost of materials/printing). 
    • If needed, printed loose leaf copies of some courses’ texts will also be available for an additional charge at the UW Book Store. 
    • Check the UW Book Store’s website to see which texts are available for purchase.
    • When printing from the Engage eReader, students can save the file as a PDF; watermarks will appear on the pages whether saved or printed.
    • If printing occurs, students will no longer be able to opt-out of receiving the eText.
    • Students that opt-out will no longer be able to access the eText or DLT and will lose the option to purchase a loose-leaf copy from the UW Book Store.
  • Remember we have arrangements in place with the publishers and the McBurney Disability Resource center to create alternate versions of texts for those students who require accommodations. For more information see Engage - Accessibility & Usability Information.

    • Note: Even with an alternate version of the text, sharing notes between students remains inaccessible for students with disabilities. To ensure that equal opportunities exist for all students in the course, this should not be required for a grade item and instructor notes should be supplied in alternate (e.g., a Word document) versions.
    • Review your McBurney Instructor Portal for more information about accommodations in your course.


The DoIT Help Desk provides technical support for Engage. They can also answer questions and walk you or your students through processes related to Engage.

The DoIT Help Desk 

  • Phone: 608-264-4357
  • Chat: link
  • E-mail:

You can also review the following:

These best practices were adapted Indiana University resources. Many thanks to IU!

Keywordsunizin, digital, learning, tool, dlts, tips, tricks, etexts, textbooks, accessing, usage, language, teaching, instructing, features, engagement, benefits, enhance, enhancing, accommodations, informing   Doc ID78080
OwnerLearn@UW MadisonGroupLearn@UW-Madison
Created2017-11-07 14:46:36Updated2024-02-22 15:09:25
SitesDoIT Help Desk, Learn@UW-Madison
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