Thursday, January 11, 2007

Improve Your Syllabus for Better Planning and Communication

Welcome back to UHV! It must be very hard to say Goodbye to the holiday break, but the new semester is also exciting with all the plans. One of the most important plans is the syllabus—the plan of your course, which is also the basis of the students’ personal studying plans. In this post, I would like to offer some resources or suggestions that you might find helpful when developing or revising your syllabus.

Being Informative
As standard practice, a syllabus needs to include detailed information about course content, textbook, prerequisite, instructor contact information, grading policy, course schedule, university policies, and so on.
Syllabus Checklist A pretty clear checklist created by University of Minnesota.
Writing a Syllabus The author asks ten inspiring questions on developing online syllabus. Several resources are also recommended.
Creating an Effective Online Syllabus A good article with a sample syllabus.

Being Clear
A good online course syllabus should be easily understood, accessible, and reflecting current content ("The ABCs of online course syllabi: anticipate, build on objectives, and collaborate. " Online Cl@ssroom, May 2006). A good idea is to use various font styles, such as bold, italics, or different fonts, to highlight the important information. This is especially useful if your syllabus has long paragraphs. One tip is to ask a family member or friend to read the syllabus draft from a student’s perspective, and it’s easier for them to identify the points that are not clear enough.

Be Interactive
As part of an online course, the syllabus can be interactive by using hyperlinks to link to relevant resources. The advantages are: 1) it’s easy to keep the content current; 2) the students have the opportunities to find more information by themselves as needed. "The information that may be linked includes:
· Publisher website
· Information for organizations/affiliations to course or program information
· Reference materials for weekly discussion areas
· Classical research
· Graphics
· Sound bites
· Video clips
· Photographs or slides
· Instructor’s email address"
("Interactive syllabus improves course accessibility." Online Cl@ssroom, June 2005.)

Please share your ideas and comments on developing online course syllabus in the comments area below.

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