A syllabus is an important tool for keeping both yourself and your students organized. In an online class, the format of the syllabus will depend on whether students should start the class during specific sessions or if they can pick it up at any point. Either way, you will need to check your syllabus regularly to make sure that it is up to date and accurate.
Use Your Tools
Most eLearning classroom platforms have a built in syllabus section. Use this section if possible. It should be posted so that students can easily access it. Even if using the built-in syllabus format is not as flexible as uploading your own, the loss is worth it. Maybe your students will have an easier time finding what they need. If you do end up loading the syllabus into a section like general course documents, you should put this information into the built-in syllabus.
This is easy enough for classes with a set start date and length. Just make sure to update your syllabus to the correct dates each time you run the class. Otherwise, you will have confusion when students see that the lesson schedule and due dates don’t match the current calendar. It also reflects poorly on your professionalism.
For classes and seminars that don’t have specific start dates, the syllabus should be an indication of how quickly students are expected to progress through the content. Use general terms like “Week One” to lay out the course of the class. You may want to include creating a customized syllabus as one of the first assignments or activities.
In addition to laying out the timing of the course, topics to be covered and due dates, a syllabus should include some other important information. It should describe policies for contacting you or your teaching assistants. This includes how, when, and how rapidly responses should be made. It should also include grading policies, as well as guidelines for class participation. You may also want to include links to your class’s primary online resources such as books, articles, and documents. If possible, have back-up options, particularly for content that is outside your control. Articles are sometimes moved or removed. Websites go down. Having a backup plan can save you and your students from a large hassle.
Creating a detailed and clear syllabus will help keep your class organized and on track. By outlining the topics that you plan to cover, you give students a roadmap to the class. By having everything in one clearly labeled location, your students will have no excuse for failing to follow the syllabus. Unlike paper syllabi, one accessible through your eLearning platform cannot accidentally be destroyed or lost.
Linking between your online syllabus and specific lessons or content can make your class even easier to complete. If you do this, always check to make sure that all the links are up to date and functional. Like accurate dates, functional links are an important part of making sure that your syllabus is professional.