Week 5: The Online Syllabus

This week reading on creating an effective online syllabus and the ideal of making our syllabus interactive; to come alive by use of hyper-links, images, multimedia vignettes and cues,  I thought was very innovative and a natural progression with using technology to enhance the online class experience, but this can also have great advantages for face-to-face course as well.

The workshops showed how you could virtually teach right from your syllabus; someone in Lisa’s workshop commented that an interactive syllabus would get students to engage your syllabus throughout the duration of the class, I agree.

Lisa’s instruction on layout and formatting of an online syllabus was vary helpfully and important; the experience of  reading online content of any kind is enhanced by good presentation, layout and design, the ease of finding what you need when you need it is critical when using web resources.   Lisa is providing us with so much good information.

For the overachiever for lest that a $100.00 a year you can setup our own website to deliver an interactive syllabus to your students if your institution does not provide proper tools.  Lisa’s stated “your syllabus becomes a living document”; student will give us constant fee-back for continued  improvement of an interactive syllabus.


Ko and Rossen, Chapter 5: Creating an Effective Online Syllabus

I thought this chapter discussed and outlined efficiently  information about developing an effective syllabus for any course format; starting from syllabus as a contract.

Syllabus Contract Statement: Statement that express the relationship  Between students and instructor, laying out the terms of the class interaction – the expected responsibilities and duties, the grading criteria, the musts and don’ts of behavior.

I see the interactive syllabus as a matrix or a schema; a framework representing a system of organizing for receiving new information, providing the basis by which someone relates to the events he or she experiences.

Creating an Effective Online Syllabus:                                                                              Acute develop details of course requirements are even                                                          more important  for an online class syllabus:

  • Expected outcomes
  • Schedule
  • Grading
  • Procedures

Managing Students Expectations: As Ko and Rossen states you should be clear about the expectations of your student, correct any false impressions students may have,  we should express to students upfront what will be the framework (schema) that you as the instructor will be working by, your rules of engagement as instructor, prepare them to prepare for your course journey.

The Map: Allow you syllabus to be the road map as to how your course will unfold guiding students by tasks, activities, course work;  indexed along a chronological timeline.  Incorporating instructional and informational landmarks; pointing out various sections of the syllabus to alert  important  exams, test or projects, providing checks to prompt for help, for guidance if needed.

  • ULRs of your homepage, websites and other online resources.
  • Identifying where to locate tools that will be used in class
  • How assignments will be delivered to instructor
  • Any special instruction on file formats, software
  • Technical support contact information.   

Schedules:                                                                                                                                        I like the idea of laying out the the course by weeks, this gives students a sense of anticipation of what is to follow and stretches out the week proving some flexibility of  online activities, which helps students participating in different times zones.  Also provides consideration for students using public facilities for internet and computer access.      

A Checklist for Online Syllabus: Ko and Rossen

  • Course Information:  Title, Books and Authors, instructor’s names, course number, courser meeting times, term info, syllabus last revised date.
  •  Instructors contact info: office hours online and on the ground, private communication contact info, tech support info.
  •  Detailed course description: prerequisite list or any special requirements for course.
  •  Course objects or expected outcomes: what students can expect to learn by completion of course.
  •  Required texts or materials: any books or material, software needed, defined what is provide by course and what will have to be obtain by student.
  •  Detailed explanation of grading criteria: components of total grade, a list of all exams, major graded assignments,  how or if class participation will be graded,  define grade percentages or points, criteria for a passing grade, policies on late assignments.
  •  Participation standards: statements that defined  participation expectations and grading (rubric could be used).
  •  Procedure processes of the class: organization of the class, instruction on how students should proceed with progression of class activities so they can stay organized, instruction for formatting and processing any material to be turned-in.
  •  Schedules weekly, by-weekly: topics, assignments, reading activities, resources.
  •  Relevant institutional policies: any relevant information about how institution operates, like enrollment process, last day for dropping or adding a class, class attendance policies. 

I know this POT is for developing online instructional skills, but the more I think about what we’re doing here, could bring so much to a face-to-face teaching experience as well,   a lot of the information I have been exposed to in this POT I would try to incorporate even if I was only teaching a face -to-face course.

 Ko and Rossen; Redundancy is often better than elegant succinctness”


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7 Responses to Week 5: The Online Syllabus

  1. Norm Wright says:

    Nice recap of the workshop. I like your remark about teaching right from the syllabus. You’ve put together a nice set of review notes for the chapter too.
    I have the same feeling about this potcert course and its applicability across the teaching spectrum, online or otherwise. I’ve learned a lot here that I could use in any teaching environment.

  2. VanessaVaile says:

    Thanks, your detailed and comprehensive chapter summary is much appreciated. I wonder though about interactive, let alone meaningful, syllabus tweaks when the format is highly prescribed and set by either department or LMS + course package that many institutions now subscribe to. In The Game of Core Standards, such will become increasingly standard practice.

    Underground, interactive syllabi anyone?

  3. Jim Sullivan says:

    I love this remark that you make: “I know this POT is for developing online instructional skills, but the more I think about what we’re doing here, could bring so much to a face-to-face teaching experience as well, a lot of the information I have been exposed to in this POT I would try to incorporate even if I was only teaching a face -to-face course.”

    I could not agree with you more. What we are talking about here is our relationship with students and how we try to create a space where they feel engaged and supported. We need that every bit as much in a f2f setting as onsite. And my work online has consistently enriched my f2f classes.

  4. I like your summary that highlights the most important points of chapter 5 of the book.

  5. thanks for such an excellent post. it is completely useful. keep this pace.

  6. I like the idea of hyperlinking everything in a Syllabus for an online course. It’s time consuming but worth it! I’m starting to hyperlink a lot of my docs for next semester.

    • fsquare435 says:

      I really like the ideal of an interactive Syllabus, it opens up new and creative ways to engage the student and keep them connected to the structure and format of the course.

      On Mon, Nov 19, 2012 at 11:38 PM, Beginnings

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