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Commercial and free authoring tools are available for faculty to create custom publications for their instructional resources.

Custom publishing services are available through Commercial Partners and each CSU campus provide a range of tools that help faculty author online course materials for their students. Remember to follow guidelines for authoring accessible content so the online content you create is usable by everyone, including those with disabilities. You can find information about authoring accessible content at the CSU Professional Development for Accessible Technology Teaching Commons

Commercial Publishing Tools:

Softchalk logo SoftChalk Cloud is an easy to use yet powerful authoring tool for content creation and management. SoftChalk Cloud is LMS neutral and is perfect for use by faculty and staff to create interactive and engaging online learning materials. With SoftChalk Cloud you can easily create accessible materials that comply with section 508 requirements. SoftChalk is dedicated to making our tool as barrier-free as possible for all students. What's more, faculty and staff can easily search and integrate MERLOT content into their learning module or lesson via an easy to use integrated SoftChalk/MERLOT interface, and can directly catalog this lesson into the MERLOT repository. Special pricing is available for CSU faculty and staff. Learn more about special pricing for SoftChalk Cloud, accessibility strategy and services for MERLOT partners by contacting Paul Miller. Click for more information on SoftChalk’s accessibility strategy.


XanEdu XanEdu – provides easy-to-use custom publishing services and tools. Instructors who prefer a highly supported experience need only submit a syllabus to XanEdu’s skilled team of developmental editors. XanEdu will manage copyright permissions, help identify content which aligns to course topics, and even prepare original manuscripts for publication. For those who prefer do-it-yourself resources, XanEdu offers a robust platform for custom book creation with an extensive library of 12 million full-text and pre-cleared content items including complete books, book chapters, journal articles, open education resources, and more. Completed course materials can be delivered to students in print, digital, or print + digital formats. XanEdu’s award-winning myXanEdu student delivery experience is available via native iPad and Android apps or on any device via a cloud-based reader. The myXanEdu reader supports annotation, highlighting, student collaboration, cross-device synchronization, and keyword search. With XanEdu, instructors have the ability to design course materials which are tailored to their course and engaging while controlling the price students pay. To request assistance on a custom project or access to XanEdu’s do-it-yourself tools, visit


Montezuma logo Montezuma Publishing has been a recognized leader in the custom course reader market for over 30 years. Offering digital and print course readers, copyright services and more at lower costs than traditional print course materials. Learn More About Montezuma Publishing

Free/Open Publishing Tools:

MERLOT logo MERLOT Content Builder - a set of free, web-based tools that are designed for people just beginning to author online content. The MERLOT Content Builder can be used by any registered MERLOT member to create websites using templates for adding text, images, video, documents, links, and more. You can easily send a download your website as an IMS Common Cartridge, send a copy to a friend, add a Creative Commons license, and catalog your website in MERLOT so others can easily find it. The Content Builder can produce accessible online learning materials when authors follow accessibility guidelines.


Connexions logo OpenStax CNX is a dynamic non-profit digital ecosystem based at Rice University that serves millions of users per month in the delivery of educational content to improve learning outcomes.

There are tens of thousands of learning objects, called pages, that are organized into thousands of textbook-style books in a host of disciplines, all easily accessible online and downloadable to almost any device, anywhere, anytime. OpenStax CNX content also meets accessibility guidelines.

Faculty can not only author and publish their content online at OpenStax CNX, but they can remix and reuse any content in the repository, including the OpenStax College library of peer-reviewed textbooks for introductory courses.

All content on OpenStax CNX is free and cc-by licensed, thanks to generous support from Rice and several philanthropic organizations.


Copyright and Fair Use for Faculty

Copyright symbol CSU Long Beach has a one-stop shopping website  for faculty to understand Copyright and Fair Use, especially in regards to their legal use of content for teaching. The website includes a set of common scenarios that are especially useful.


Using Creative Commons

Creative Commons provides a methodology for authors to provide users of their content with the legal permissions to use that content in specific, pre-approved ways that:

  • encourage authors of online materials to share their work with others who might wish to reuse the materials in creative ways
  • ensure that contributions of online materials by authors to their community are protected from misuse and abuse.

To learn more about using Creative Commons, watch the MERLOT and Creative Commons video on YouTube.

Creative Commons: Creativity Builds on the Past

Creative Commons, Managing Your Copyright, and Collaboration

Watch the Creative Commons video Wanna Work Together that pays tribute to the people around the world using CC licenses to build a better, more vibrant creative culture.

Thumbnail of Creative Commons video

Sharing What You Author

Once the online course materials are authored, we encourage authors to catalog their materials in MERLOT so other faculty and students can benefit from their time and talents invested in creating the content. It’s simple to catalog your online course content (or other websites you find that you use in your teaching) in MERLOT and help people find quality materials.


First: Become a member of MERLOT (It will take about 2 minutes and it’s FREE).

Second: Fill out the online form to Contribute a Material. (It will take about 4 minutes the first time and step-by-step instructions for contributing materials to MERLOT are available).