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Your module prep using digital Primary Sources: reduce AI use

A Libguide dedicated to all things MU Staff, bringing together useful resources, tools and services available to MU Staff in one place.

Make your module-planning easier: using content & services from us

We know that you send your proposed module titles and descriptions to the Academic Database (ADB) around mid-Feb, in the main. You then have to decide on the lesson plans, and later on again, decide on your reading list. 

MU teaching faculty can avail of a service via some database publishers (who provide MU access to primary source material) whereby they will analyse your lesson plans in detail and provide you with a report. The report typically contains class-specific / thematic links to relevent digital material, that will support the delivery of your classes. This service is called "Course Alignment". This is suited to many FACSP and FSS modules. 

Using Course Alignment is an easy way to develop your reading lists and lesson plans with stable links to relevant, digital material for your students, and can be used in conjunction with your own required reading for your students. You can adopt as much or as little of their suggested digital material and approaches as you wish.This service is provided by Gale Primary Sources and Academic Video Online (AVON).

Other primary sources databases (AM Explorer and ProQuest) also offer a range of aligned material (curriculum mapping reports) that you can use for relevant material for your modules, with bespoke information for most departments in MU - ask me about these 2023 reports today

Begin the process by checking to see if your subject is covered by our primary source collections here

What is Course Alignment & how does it relate to my module-plans?

Course Alignment (in its fullest sense) involves a database provider examining your module in order to provide you with a report that gives you links to relevant primary sources in the database arranged in a systematic way, either thematically, or week-by-week.

You can use this report to build or enrich your module by adding the stable-links to your reading lists, and your teaching, and in doing so, your students will benefit of the vast primary sources available to them from MU Library. Using primary source material is often an excellent way to reduce use of AI-generated submissions from your students, as they have to engage with the material in a unique way.

Some providers of course alignment produce a tailor-made document, guiding you through the relevant content and linking it to weeks and lectures in each module. They can take the objectives of the course and each week’s focus into account.

Some offer a more limited, basic subject-alignment offering with links to relevant material, sometimes called Curriculum Mapping, in report form, but this can still be very useful to you.

Using digital primary sources to reduce use of AI by students

[Adapted from:]

How do I develop learning experiences that discourage the use of AI content generation services?

  • Consider connecting your assignment prompts deeply to in-class discussions and activities. AI content generation services do not have access to your course content, so requiring mention of topics or ideas specific to your class negates the value of AI-created content.
  • Require more than one draft of the same paper/assignment. Have students bring a first draft to class, then work during class to revise and improve the paper/assignment. Even if students use AI-generated content for their first draft, they will be invested in the work to refine the second draft.
  • Encourage primary research, when possible, (see: Is my subject covered?) so that student work uses information not available on the internet (e.g., interviews, reviews of archival materials).
  • Consider using citation practices that require DOI numbers or links to validate resources.
  • Include a reflective component in your paper/assignment that can only be created by students themselves. AI content generation services do not have the ability to create content that isn’t based on reported and searchable information.
  • Develop writing prompts and other assignments at levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy that require higher-level cognitive engagement. AI content generation services can construct content at the “create” and “evaluate” levels rather effectively; however, content that requires students to “analyze,” “apply,” “understand,” or “remember” is often lacking in complexity and depth.
  • Use small assignments/papers in conjunction with other technologies to allow them to be written during class time, such as a Moodle quiz, or a prompt on Menti.
  • Consider multi-modal project types, such as presentations, videos, or podcasts.
  • Group and/or client-based projects, where students must collaborate with one another or external entities.
  • Problem-based learning and design thinking are processes that are too complex for AI content generators to navigate effectively

[Source:Ai-generated content in the classroom: Considerations for course design (2023) AI-Generated Content: Considerations for Course Design | Center for Integrated Professional Development - Illinois State. Available at: (Accessed: 26 May 2023).]



Advice from faculty-to-faculty on adopting Primary Source content in the classroom

  • Use oral sources as an accessible way into primary sources. Prepare the students for the characteristics of the specific sources, and their limitations. Choose a simple source first.
  • One page of a document can be a way of branching out into a range of broader sources and will provide your students with a much larger picture of study, so don’t be afraid to “start small” with one page.
  • Let your students dive right into documents and sustain a critical point of view as they analyse it. It can be very fruitful to show students the bias that can exist and to critically appraise the material.
  • Use the librarian’s expertise in your organisation. Access their knowledge of documents and other sources. Look out for “new to” assistance tools and help pages and use them.

Thanks to advice provided by Professor Giampiero Brunelli, Università di Roma, Professor Jerzy Zdanowski, Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski Krakow University, and Dr Ainhoa Campos Posada, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, who were speakers at a 2022 Adam Matthew webinar on "Primary Source Literacy in Europe: Empowering students and researchers with the practical tools they need".

Teaching and Learning with Primary Sources in an age of Generative AI

A recent keynote address by Tom Scheinfeldt on Teaching and Learning with Primary Sources in the age of Generative AI’ gives 8 things that YOU can do for your students in the age of AI. The address is well-worth a read in full here.

Scheinfeldt, T. (2023) ‘Teaching and Learning with Primary Sources in the age of Generative AI’, Dartmouth College Teaching with Primary Sources Symposium. Darmouth College Teaching with Primary Sources Symposium, Hanover: New Hampshire, 23 March.


Who to contact about Course Alignment or Curriculum Mapping reports?

Contact Helen Farrell, Academic Engagement Librarian:

Is my subject covered?

Alignment services for modules, reports, and subject-aligned content available from MU Library, 




Usage guidance from MU Library

AM Explorer (Primary Sources): 

Curriculum alignment report has been requested from AM Explorer, and dissemination to MU departments will happen sometime during Semester 1, 2023. Contact Helen Farrell, Academic Engagement Librarian, MU Library,  if you would like more information or support.

Many subjects in FACSP & FSS have relevant material

When using AM Explorer for the first time, click on Collections at the top of the home page to see a list of collections, themes, time periods and regions included in the resource.

Browse the collections to see the sort of material included. Each collection includes an Introduction telling you about the collection, and the archives which house the original documents.

Gale Primary Sources:  scroll down the page slightly to reach the "Access your Gale Primary Sources here" link.

Partial course alignment

History, Social Sciences, History of Law, Newspaper sources

Contact Carolyn Beckford direct in Gale, and CC Helen Farrell in MU. 

ProQuest Primary Sources:

Curriculum analysis report available for MU for 2023 for certain departments.

English, History, Literature & Language, Religion

Helen Farrell

Academic Video Online (AVON): 

Partial course alignment - videos will be identified that would support the learning outcomes in your module, and provided by email.

All Faculties/most subjects covered.

Contact AVON product advisor Sarah Brennan directly. 

Sage Business Cases: 

Full course-alignment service and additional teaching notes for faculty, on a dedicated guide. 


Read the supporting material for faculty here

Request full course-mapping for your module by emailing

Sage Research Methods: 

Subject-aligned content available from the product at all times, including suggested reading lists for subjects

Most subjects covered

Browse reading lists and content by discipline:

Using digital primary sources in your online teaching

Browse through the AM Explorer YouTube channel here for guidance on using its collections and more.

Course Alignment: what you can expect to receive

For products offering full course alignment services, you can receive module-specific suggestions for innovative content use in your classes, with direct links to the content, like this example

For curriculum mapping, the content you receive can be a report with suggested links to collections within the product for an overall departmental subject.

For subject alignment, you can expect to see subject-relevant content within a product and support information about using this material in the classroom, and/or linking to this content. 

Course Alignment: timescale - what to expect

Please allow 4-6 weeks ahead of the date of commencement of your module. Depending on the service provider, Course Alignment can be a very intensive task, and it can depend on time of year/workload of the publisher that is offering the service. 

My module is already set up: can I still use these services?

Absolutely; Course Alignment can still be of use to established modules. The report that you receive back from the publisher may give you ideas for new approaches to your classes, or could be of use in research projects for the class. You may also realise that there is specific primary source material that relates to your module. 

Five reasons why primary sources should be used for teaching

Five reasons why primary sources should be used for teaching via @timeshighered