The syllabus. It’s torture. Perhaps not as much torture as grading, but it is still not my favorite thing to do. Sitting in the dentist’s chair with white knuckles is the only thing close.
For me, the syllabus is the crux of my classroom planning. I agonize over it. Prints come hot off the copier, and I look at them in awe, remembering the hours of labor and the attempts to choose readings to which my students can relate. In other words, it’s pure gold. And it should be for my students as well. It isn’t the length of a phone book. I have honed the words to be succinct but explanatory. The schedule details every class day and what assignments are due when. However, I always always get questions like “What is your email address?” My response? See the t-shirt above.
At the moment, I am working on developing an online course, and the syllabus is arguably even more important in this atmosphere.Â This is actually my first online course, and it is a totally different experience. Students often have never had an online course. Or they’ve had a bad experience in one, or they love online courses but have never taken one through the platform your university utilizes.
How do you combat all these questions/issues? I found a great resource that discusses just that here, and I’ll post some highlights below:
– Set expectations for contact timeline; are you available 24/7? If not, when?
– Include contact information for tech support and hours of operation.
– Discuss exactly what you expect from students. Do you want one-sentence responses on a discussion board? Tell them.
– Remember students will not have the benefit of asking questions in class, so anticipate what questions they may have.
– Consider creating a welcome video reiterating some syllabus information.
– Let students know up front which file formats you can accept. Give instructions on how to change format when saving.
– Explain the online forum is not Facebook. Discuss what is acceptable.
– Let students know which time zone the online platform uses. Very important.
– Indicate to students how often you expect them to be online.
– Create a schedule with dates, and post dates on a bulletin board.
If you are struggling with this like I am, I highly suggest you check out the article I linked to above. However, if you are an old pro, please share. What have you learned about teaching online classes? Is there anything you know now that you wish you would have known when you began?
Thanks for sharing with the rest of us!
jenn aka the picky girl