Online Syllabus Essentials

July 10, 2023

The syllabus sets the foundation of a course and provides a bird’s-eye view of its components. Creating a dynamic syllabus using the tool in Canvas allows you make adjustments throughout the term or from one semester to the next without creating multiple versions in documents or pdfs. Just alert students to a change with a quick announcement, and then you all have access to an updated central version whenever needed.

A hand emerges from under a pile of open books

The temptation is to put every conceivable description, guideline, and policy in the syllabus. However, this explosion of content in the syllabus makes for long, unreadable expanses of text that students do not actually read.

Graphic of a chalkboard with numerous icons with a lightbulb highlighting text: "Keep it Simple"

Try prioritizing procedures and aspects of your course that shape the whole course that learners might want to reference frequently. Put the other information somewhere else in Canvas, such as a home page or Start Here module. That makes it easier to walk learners through the information in chunks, rather than dumping it on them all at once in the syllabus.

To streamline your online syllabus, focus on the essential components and make strategic choices about what else to include. Breaking information into smaller pieces and presenting them intentionally will maximize what your learners absorb.

Essential Components

  • Course overview – tell learners what the course covers and how it fits with the broader curriculum.
  • Course learning objectives – set expectations for what learners will be able to do at the end of the course.
  • Required materials – cite the instructional materials and tools learners will be expected to use for the course, including any that must be purchased.
  • Assignment structure and grading policy – explain the kinds of assessments that learners will complete and how they contribute to the overall grade for the course.
  • Schedule – give a quick overview of all the topics/units for the course and the dates they will occur.

You might also choose to include institutional or departmental policies, resources for academic and student support, and other course expectations here. Another benefit of the online syllabus is that you can link to these resources directly rather than providing an exhaustive explanation of each one. Consider incorporating just a brief introduction and linking out to the full resource.  

Upcoming Events

Design Principles for Learning

Wednesday, July 12, 1:30 – 2:15PM

Design principles can transform how your Canvas site looks and feels and how it communicates information to your students. Join this presentation to learn what design principles you can apply to enhance the impact of your course content. We have tools and resources for you to start applying what you learn in this session.

Facilitated by Casey Pearce, Digital Learning Designer

Register here for Design Principles for Learning on July 12th .

Quick Hit – Canvas Quizzes and Academic Integrity

Thursday, July 27, 3:30 – 4:00PM

Are you interested in learning about how to secure your online tests and quizzes? Join Clemson Online for a quick look at these topics to help you ensure your classes’ academic integrity. In this course, we will explain the purpose of securing your online assessments and demonstrate how to use them in your course. All of this is in just a 20-minute Quick Hits session!

Facilitated by Gray Jackson, Learning Technology Specialist.

Register for Quick Hit: Canvas Quizzes and Academic Integrity on July 27th.

Clemson Online Summer 2023 Events Calendar

Review our Summer 2023 Events Calendar to see what Online Instruction Development opportunities await!

We have a robust Summer lineup of topics and live training formats to support your use of Canvas and other e-learning tools. Topics cover demonstrations of using Kaltura, presentations on inclusive practices for online education, and workshops to get your Canvas site ready to teach!

All of our live training is recorded. Registrants will automatically receive a link to that day’s video after it has been processed.

Contact James Butler with any questions regarding these sessions. 

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