Creating Your Syllabus or Introductory Videos

Consider the following points when creating your online/distance course syllabus or introductory videos. (Most are useful for planning both online courses and traditional courses.)

Focus on items that suit your teaching preferences and the class format. Try to anticipate the needs of your students. How can you clearly explain the course structure, your role, and the student’s expected role throughout the course? Provide as much detail as possible to reduce confusion and erroneous assumptions.

  • Introduce yourself and your background.

  • Describe the course objectives.

  • What are the course requirements? What prerequisites and technical skills are expected.

  • How is the course organized?

    • Is course self-pace or instructor-paced?
    • Is the course chunked into weekly modules with weekly due dates, or some other way?
  • Provide a course schedule, which includes a listing of what will be covered and when, as well as assignment due dates.

  • What books, software programs, and other materials are needed? (Provide information about how to access resources (books, readings, web sites, etc.)

  • Which content delivery methods will be used in the course?

    • Describe the delivery system(s), e.g. webinar, telephone conference, web site, in-person.
    • Specify the software and hardware requirements.
    • Indicate if and when the student is expected to participate in real-time activities.
    • Indicate whether all work will be individual work or if there will be group work.
  • Provide information on how assignments, exams and quizzes will be distributed & collected.

    • Are students encourage to work together on activities?
    • Provide information about penalties for plagiarism and copyright infringement (guidelines for guidelines for referencing materials)
    • Will you use on‐line assessments?
      • How should students submit work (Word file, zipped file, email, assignment drop box)?
      • Can students take back and re‐submit assignments?
      • What are your grading policies (will you drop the lowest quiz, accept late assignments)?
    • Will you use online quizzes and exams?
      • Must online tests be done in a proctored environment? Give details.
      • How will online tests be set up (time limits, randomized questions, multiple submissions)?
      • When will students received scores/feedback on online tests?
  • How will students be graded?

    • What is the point distribution and anticipated letter grade breaks?.
    • When can students expect their grades?
    • What are your policies for requesting assignment extensions?
    • When and how can students request deferred exams?
    • Can students make-up a missed quiz or exam?
    • Will low scores be dropped? Is there some maximum number of points that can be earned through quizzes?
    • Will extra credit opportunities exist and must students complete a specific number of activities to earn the right to submit extra credit work?
    • When can students expect their final grades?
    • Will students have the opportunity to fill out course evaluations? How?
  • How will interaction be conducted (instructor-student, student-student)?

    • Discussion boards (conduct rules, when to use vs. email)
    • Chat rooms (will these be recorded and posted?)
    • Email (when to use vs. discussion)
    • Phone (what is your phone number and when will you take calls?)
    • Skype (what is your Skype username?)
  • Where do students submit questions or comments?

    • Can students ask questions anonymously?
    • When can students expect a reply from you if they submit a question?
    • Is there a specific time of day you will check email and discussions?
  • Will you have office hours (online or in-person)?

  • Who do students contact for technical assistance (software, hardware)?

  • Who do students contact for administrative assistance (registration, tuition/fees)?

  • Are there other resources that the student should know about?

  • What happens if a student is unable to complete the course?

  • Provide information about penalties for plagiarism and copyright infringement (guidelines for referencing materials)

  • When can students expect their final grades?

  • Will students have the opportunity to fill out course evaluations? How?
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