Create a visual syllabus and syllabus activity.
- Create a syllabus activity for your class.
- Access KSCM to get information from your approved course outline.
- Use your approved course outline contents and add your additional information to create your visual syllabus.
- Make your syllabus available to your students.
Creating a course syllabus and making it available to students is an essential responsibility as an instructor. A syllabus outlines a course’s organization, goals, requirements, policies, expectations, etc. (but is not intended to be used to outline details of the entire course). How can we add value to our syllabi and create value for students to use syllabi? One way is to create an interactive syllabus activity paired with a visual syllabus can help your students learn about the course requirements in a more meaningful way and get them excited about what they will be learning. Your challenge is to create a syllabus activity and give your syllabus a “makeover” into a visual syllabus.
Why a “visual syllabus”?
A visual syllabus is not only more visually appealing, but it can be designed to also help students make better meaning from it (when there’s more than just text), draw connections with course concepts, be used as a resource throughout the semester, and get them excited about what they will be learning. Furthermore, a syllabus activity with your students can further engage them with the syllabus contents and help them to find value in the syllabus.
- [Blog post] Time for an Extreme Syllabus Make-Over? – Michelle Pacansky-Brock shares her new, visual syllabus that adds personality, visual value, and relevancy
- Educator’s Guide to a 21st Century Syllabus [PDF] by Michelle Pacansky-Brock
- Guest instructor shares visual syllabus and syllabus activity
- Other instructors’ syllabi and syllabus activities
Brainstorm some possible ideas for a syllabus activity you’d like to try. Or if you have a good activity you do already, could it be further enhanced?
How could you create a visual syllabus to aid in your syllabus activity? How could you create a visual syllabus that can be more purposeful for your students? How could you create a visual syllabus that students could use throughout the semester? Any particular features you’d need to include?
Share your ideas with your group for feedback and decide on a syllabus activity. Keep this in mind as you create/design your syllabus.
Create two versions of your syllabus – a text-based and a visual version.
Access KSCM and create a “standard” syllabus
If you don’t already have a “standard” syllabus document, you can make a copy of my template doc that abides by the Policy L5.201: Policy on Curriculum Review and Revision (revised) approved by the Leeward CC Faculty Senate:
Course syllabi can reflect the individuality, style, and creativity of the instructor. However, each semester all disciplines will compare the core outlines for all active courses with the syllabi of all faculty members to ensure that all syllabi include standardized items. The standardized items are:
- Course alpha and number designation, title, credits, prerequisites, most recent catalog
course description, and student learning outcomes (as reflected in KSCM).
- Assessment notification.
- Instructor information: name, office location, office hours, phone number, and e-mail
- Course information: course record number (CRN), classroom location, course meeting
days and times, and a list of required textbooks and supplies.
- Grading policy.
- Academic Dishonesty policy, as shown in current catalog.
Kuali Student Curriculum Management (KSCM) is the UH system’s new online system for curriculum management and review of course and program proposals for new and modified courses and programs. (Formerly, Curriculum Central.) Faculty submit proposals for new courses, modification of existing courses, and requests for program modification to be reviewed by the campus’ Curriculum Committee and administrators. You can use it to access your approved course information for your syllabus.
- Login at: https://leeward.kuali.co/cm/
- Use the search box to find your course.
- Click on your desired course to view its information.
- Click and drag to highlight the desired text you’d like to copy and then press Ctrl C (or Cmd C) to copy the desired text.
- Choose either MS Word or Google Docs to paste your copied text. Alternatively, you may use my standard syllabus template to get a quick start.
- Using Word, click on the Paste’s button down-arrow > choose to Paste text only so you don’t copy any of the weird formatting.
- Using Google Docs, paste the copied text by pressing Ctrl V (or Cmd V). Select all the text and click the “Clear Formatting” button in the toolbar. (It may also be hidden under the “More” button in the toolbar.) Or click on the “Format” menu and click on “Clear formatting”.
Now that you have the approved course syllabus information from KSCM in a Word file or Google Document, clean up the text and create a text-based course syllabus within the parameters of the approved course syllabus. Add other sections and information in your syllabus, as needed. Utilize headings to create sections and alt-text for images to make it accessible.
Consider including these other recommended statements of helpful resources/services for students to include in your syllabus.
When you’re done, save this text-based version as a PDF as a text-based option for students.
Create a “visual” syllabus
Now the fun part! To make your visual syllabus, if you are going to keep using the same program (i.e. Word or Google Docs), make a copy of your text-based version and save it as your visual syllabus version. Then, make-over the visual syllabus copy to add personality, visual value, and relevancy. Add graphics, tables, color, chunk content, etc.
Alternatively, PowerPoint or Google Slides may be easier to work when arranging different objects like text boxes, images, and shapes in creating your visual syllabus. Create a new PPT or Google Slides file and copy/paste the text from your text-only version to create your visual syllabus. You may also want to visit the Syllabus Artifacts page to download our Google Slides template to get you started or to view instructors’ syllabi as examples for ideas.
Make your syllabus available to students
Laulima has a “Syllabus” tool to make your syllabus available to students throughout the semester. Consider also emailing it (or sending as a Laulima Announcement) to your students a week before the semester starts.
Method 1 – PDF
- Save your finished syllabus file as both a Word doc or Google Doc, and a PDF. (You will use the PDF to upload to Laulima > Syllabus.) Tutorial: How to save a Word file as a PDF. Alternatively, to download a Google Doc as a PDF, click on the “File” menu in the document > “Download as…” > “PDF Document (.pdf)”
- Upload your syllabus (PDF) to your Laulima course site using the Syllabus tool. Tutorials: How to upload your syllabus to Laulima Syllabus. There are three ways to do this:
Method 2 – Web-based
- If it’s a Google Doc or Google Slides file, share the file – “anyone with link can view.” (This allows you to make small changes, if needed, and it will always be an up-to-date version. Just make sure to inform students of any pertinent changes.) Or another idea is that you can make it more interactive by giving students “commenting” permissions to leave comments on the syllabus. Additionally, a non-PDF file, such as a Google Slides file will also allow embedded multimedia, such as a video, to play within the Google Slides file.
- Put the link to the Google file in Laulima > Syllabus to make it available to students using the “redirect” linking method.
- In the Syllabus tool, click on the Create/Edit button.
- Click on the Redirect button.
- Paste your share link of your Google Slides file in the URL box.
- Click Save.
There are other methods such as embedding your Google Doc or Google Slides file in a Google Site, if you use one. The benefit of this is that it’s not closed within the confines of an LMS so any potential student could have access to it before registering if you want to put the link to it in the Class Availability Listings. Additionally, if you use Google Slides (and not a PDF) and you have multimedia content such as a video embedded in your slide, it will play.
Apply for the “Visual Syllabus Creator” badge
Successful completion of this workshop for a badge of accomplishment includes accomplishing the workshop’s objectives, sharing your visual syllabus, and implementing a syllabus activity with your students. When you’re ready, apply for the “Visual Syllabus Creator” badge.
- Kuali Student Curriculum Management (KSCM) – UH system’s new online system for curriculum management and review of course and program proposals for new and modified courses and programs
- Tutorial: How to save a Word file as a PDF
- How to use and set up the Laulima Syllabus tool
- [Blog post] Time for an Extreme Syllabus Make-Over? – Michelle Pacansky-Brock shares her new, visual syllabus
- Educator’s Guide to a 21st Century Syllabus [PDF] by Michelle Pacansky-Brock
- [Blog post] The Liquid Syllabus: Are You Ready? by Michelle Pacansky-Brock – Going beyond a static PDF syllabus locked in a LMS.
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