BEST PRACTICES - SYLLABUS

Faculty are required to issue a syllabus for each class (Board Policy 3.9). The contents of your syllabi should conform to Board policy 3.9.1P on Course Syllabi.

Additionally, your syllabus must conform to the official Course Outline of Record in topic areas taught, the type of evaluation methods used, and SLO assessment (listed on the Course Outline of Record).

Following are items to consider including in your syllabi specifically for online and hybrid courses.

Accessible Word Template

Download Accessible Syllabus Word Doc Template. This Word template was created to help faculty create accessible syllabi documents that will work better with assistive technology for the disabled students. See more about creating accessible Word documents.

PREPARING STUDENTS: CREATING A COURSE SYLLABUS FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

In addition to the traditional features of a course syllabus, the syllabus for an online course or a course having a significant online component should include details about:

  • Student preparation and expected student conduct in the online environment
  • Course and Web site design, including an introduction to the technology and courseware you will use such as discussion forums, quizzes, and assignments requiring file uploads.
  • Instructor-student contact and student-student contact methods and policies
  • Student resources such as help desks, disability resources, and tutorial services

SYLLABUS DESIGN & CONTENT

Note: Standard features of a course syllabus, such as a list of textbooks required, the instructor’s grading policy, a curriculum overview, etc., are not discussed below. Only features that should be revised or added for an online class (or a class having a significant online component) are discussed.

  • Posting Your Syllabus: When the online Schedule of Classes is made available to students, post a public version of your syllabus to your CATE section home page so that interested students will be forewarned about requirements and format before they commit to the class. To avoid confusion and create consistency, use the same layout in the publicly accessible syllabus on your CATE section home page and on any additional course syllabus available only to enrolled students. If the public syllabus is an abbreviated version, make this fact known to students.
  • Meeting Schedule: If your course meets irregularly, for example a course may meet face-to-face only every other week or only for certain lab or field trip activities, be sure to place this information prominently in the publically-accessible syllabus so that students can confirm their availability at those times before committing to the class.
  • Student Preparation: Advise students, many of whom may be new to online learning, about the differences between online and traditional face-to-face learning. In particular, advise students of the time management and study skills required to be a successful online student. Encourage students new to distance learning to complete the online preparedness quiz and to check that they have the appropriate hardware, connectivity, and basic computer skills necessary to take an online course by reading the needs overview titled “What You Need, and What You Need to Know”. For additional CATE courseware-related issues that may arise for your students, such as uploading documents, submitting quizzes, and posting messages to message boards, provide a link to the SRJC Student Handbook for online classes. You can also find a list of Moodle FAQs for students which can be incorporated into your syllabus.
  • Drop Policy: Let students know what they need to do to avoid being dropped from the course. If you're using CATE, provide students with information about completing the class check-in process. If you're using Moodle, explain how you will evaluate whether or not they have "checked into" the course before the drop date. If there are other circumstances that would result in a student being dropped from a course, outline them here.
  • Instructor information/Contact: Provide students with several ways to communicate with you: face-to-face, email, office telephone, online office hours, chat room, etc. Clearly state instructor responsibilities and roles: for example, how often instructor will answer e-mail, the instructor’s role in discussion boards and chat rooms, etc. Include a statement about how long students may expect to wait for responses to questions and concerns. If you have an instructor "home page" or profile that provides information about your
  • Course Description: In your course description section, explain how the course and Web site are organized; for example, provide a brief preview of the units or modules in the course, go over the frequency of quizzes, essays, or exams, tell students where they should check for due dates and drop boxes for assignments, explain how to use navigation tools such as a navbar or menus, and, in general, show how the course is put together to help students feel comfortable with the course environment.
  • Student Learning Outcomes Statement: Objectives in an online course provide important guidance to students who don't have the benefit of regular in-class discussions to focus their learning. Objectives should be made available for each lesson, module, or section of the course. These objectives should emanate from the course’s SLOs and detail the specific tasks that students will be able to complete.
  • Textbooks and Web resources required and recommended: If online resources are used, provide students with links to support services for those resources so that they will know what to do if problems arise. Also, provide students with a direct link to the SRJC bookstore to make purchasing textbooks and other required supplies easier.
  • Policy on Plagiarism: Be specific about the actions you will take if a student is caught plagiarizing. Your policy should be consistent for all students. To help students understand the gravity of the situation, provide a link to the SRJC statement on academic integrity. If you use a commercial site such as Turnitin.com to screen essays for authenticity, explain why you have chosen to use the site and provide students with a link to the site’s instructional and help pages.
  • Participation expectations: Articulate expectations for student participation in groups, blogs, message boards, and/or chat rooms. Explain how participation will figure in students’ overall grade.
  • Assessment: Identify any special test-taking procedures you will use in the course such as proctored or timed exams or exams scheduled at a particular time. Include date and time of final exam.
  • Research information and links: Provide students with links to general resources they will need throughout the course.
  • Netiquette and SRJC student conduct expectations: Include information about online abuses such as flaming, hacking, and inappropriate use of message boards. Provide information about Student Conduct Standards and Due Process.
  • Technical requirements for the course: Inform students about any downloads or plug-ins required to access course content and provide links to download pages for the plug-ins as well as basic explanations on the download process.
  • Technical Support: Explain how students access technical support when they run into trouble. Include information to students about technical requirements and provide basic technical support, as well as customer service links and phone numbers for all required technology (e.g., Flash, Quicktime, AOL instant messenger, etc.). Faculty should not be responsible for all training, or expected to answer all technology-related questions.
  • Help for students with disabilities: Provide links to resources for students with disabilities. Many of these links are available from the SRJC “Distance Ed Accessibility” page of SRJC Disability Resources Department.
  • Course Visitors & Guests: Inform students about any others who may have access to the course, including invited guests, technical support people, and course evaluators.
  • Alternate content formats: Inform students if lectures and/or other curriculum will be available in alternate formats such as .pdf files, CD-ROM, podcast, etc. Explain how students will access these alternate formats.