Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Online Course Syllabus

The syllabus in an online course can serve as a communication tool between the course instructor and the participant. Course expectations and procedures can be communicated in the syllabus, in addition, to information about how to best communicate with the instructor of the course (i.e., email, phone).

Secondly, the syllabus in an online course can also serve as a binding commitment between the course instructor and the participant. It can help answer any questions the participant might have about the course, as well as, inform the participants about the consequences for failing to meet course expectations.

Lastly, the syllabus can serve as a learning guide for the participant taking the online course. Helpful tips about how to succeed in an online course, including, where to access course checklists, advice about where to get help, and how to manage time, are all items that can be included in the syllabus.

Some elements of an online syllabus that needs to be included and stressed upon that differs from that of a syllabus from a traditional face-to-face course include:

1. Course Overview/Navigation – how to navigate through the course and where items can be found

2. Course Participation – posting expectations as well as how attendance point will be gained

3. Technology Requirements – hardware and/or software requirements

4. Specific Course Procedures – how students should proceed each week after completing one module

What other ways do you think an online course syllabus is different?

The syllabus is definitely an important part of any course.


george joeckel said...

Hi D,

This is a great list of elements that are critical in an online course syllabus!

I'd like to share with you a tool that my colleagues and I at Utah State University have been working on. It's called the Online Syllabus Template Tool, and it models many of the best practices you mention. It is a PDF file that opens in Adobe Reader and links to an easy-to-modify template created in OpenOffice Writer.

You can download the tool from our "Faculty Resources" page at: http://fact.usu.edu/htm/faculty-resources.



DBenner said...


Thanks for the tip! I will definitely take a look at it.


Miguel Guhlin said...

Thanks to both of you for sharing!