Integrating Open Textbooks into Your Learning Management System

A request we often hear from instructors is that they would like to add an open textbook to their institutional learning management system (LMS). With course cartridges (also known as IMS Common Cartridges), you can do just that.

Post by Clint Lalonde, project manager, Open Source Homework Systems at BCcampus

Some of the open textbooks in the BCcampus open textbook collection are available as course cartridges. Course cartridges are designed to be imported into your institutional LMS, which allows your learners to access open textbook content without having to leave the LMS. It also gives instructors some limited customization opportunities in that you can reorder chapters of the book or hide textbook content that is not relevant to your learners using the functions within your LMS.

What Is a Course Cartridge?

A course cartridge is a standardized way of packaging and exchanging digital learning materials based on the IMS Thin Common Cartridge web links standard. The course cartridge is a special file that you can download from the textbook and import into your institutional LMS course shell. 

The course cartridge contains links to the online version of the textbooks with each link leading a student to a section or module within the textbook. Since these links appear as modules in your LMS, you can adjust them like you would any other module in your LMS, setting specific release dates, deleting or hiding content you are not using, or rearranging them to customize the course content for your students.


Although you do have some flexibility to rearrange chapters or sections of the book from within your LMS, you cannot edit the contents of the book, as the Common Cartridge does not make a copy of the book in your LMS. For example, you won’t be able to edit a book’s text or add, edit, or remove specific images.

Also, the availability of course cartridges varies by book. While a number of books in the B.C. Open Textbook Collection do have course cartridges (see the list of available books) not all books are available as course cartridges. 

For more information

To see if your chosen textbook has a course cartridge, and for further instructions on integrating the cartridge within your institutional LMS, refer to the section “Importing a Book into an LMS” in the BCcampus Pressbooks Guide.

The featured image for this post (viewable in the BCcampus News section at the bottom of our homepage) is by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels