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Effective online syllabus example
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Effective online syllabus example


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  • 1. © Blackboard Inc. 1 Creating an Effective Online Syllabus A Clear Beginning In a face-to-face classroom, after welcoming the students to class, you likely spend the first class session distributing the syllabus, elaborating on its contents, reviewing expectations, and answering questions. In an online course, this familiar pattern is missing, and students may feel anxious about what to do next. In fact, the start of an online course can create more student anxiety than a traditional face-to-face course. Here are some tips on how to put your students at ease: • Be absolutely clear about where and how to begin your course. Put first steps or orientation materials in prominent locations. • Be prepared to spend the first few days establishing rapport with your students. Be available to answer questions, clarify expectations, and generate excitement about the course. • Explain tasks clearly. Carefully select clear wording that will not be misinterpreted. Ambiguity in objectives, descriptions, or directions can be magnified in an online course, causing additional work and stress for you and your students. Welcome Your Students Your students' first impressions will influence their opinions and attitudes about your course. • Let students know you are glad they are here. An inviting tone— somewhat informal, but still professional—is equivalent to a smile and a greeting to a student who walks through the door in a traditional class. • Think about how your students might feel when they enter your course for the first time. To put students at ease, include the following: - A welcoming message and brief self-introduction. - Specific instructions on how to begin the course. - Icebreakers to build a sense of camaraderie and community. Students in online courses often feel disoriented without the familiar face-to-face introductory explanations during the first day of class. Besides including the basics in your syllabus about grading criteria, course objectives, and department
  • 2. © Blackboard Inc. 2 policies, consider adding procedures distinctive to the online environment. For example, include sections for the schedule, an online map, and a participation contract. The Schedule • List start and end times for units and provide a weekly overview. • Specify due dates; consider repeating important due dates on the Calendar, in Announcements, or by making the Notification Modules available on the Home Page. • Provide students with your real-time office hours in Chat. • Make expectations clear about how often students are to attend class. The Map • Help students use the syllabus as a map or guide to the course. Provide a description of the course layout and where to find each area of the course. • List special online course procedures, such as where to access lesson material and how to label and submit assignments. • List where tests are located, and offer practice tests to familiarize students with the interface. The Contract Make participation expectations clear: • Set a minimum number of postings in the Discussion Board or Chat. • Let students know you intend to grade on quality, as well as quantity. Let students know what they can expect from you: • List your schedule for returning graded work and providing feedback for questions, emails, and discussion posts. • Let students know how you handle technical difficulties.