The Online Syllabus: A Roadmap to Success

Posted on: March 1, 2017 | By: Cheri Crabb, PhD | Filed under: Teaching & Learning

A well designed online syllabus explains how the class will unfold, faculty expectations, student responsibilities, office hours, assignments, projects, assessments, rubrics, grading criteria, and technology tools– as well as incorporates important links, examples, and contact information.  This post serves as the roadmap for your course guiding the student to success. 

Here are some tips for creating an online syllabus:

  1. Specific directions that clearly state your expectations, sequencing of assignments, and specifications for writing assignments
  2. Explain the course organization (i.e. each week begins on Monday and ends on Friday)
  3. Note where students can get technical support and your availability for online office hours
  4. Class participation should be clearly stated with regards to the grading criteria
  5. Note the expected behavior in discussion boards; include an example to follow and rubric for grading responses
  6. Strive to provide feedback on all work/questions within 24 hours
  7. Provide detailed instructions for students, including student roles and responsibilities for group work, assignments, projects, and assessments
  8. State your late work and plagiarism policies
  9. Allow at least two days between assignments so you can get them graded and returned before the next deliverable is due
  10. Remember students may be in different time zones or working during the day when assigning due dates; Elon students do the bulk of their classwork between 2am and 5am
  11. Create a calendar of work to keep students on track
  12. Write material in a conversational tone with an active voice
  13. Clearly state learning objectives in the syllabus and directly tie each assignment, learning activity, or post to an objective

Recommended readings

Effective Online Teaching – Foundations and Strategies for Student Success, 2011, Tina Stavredes

Cheri Crabb, PhD

Cheri Crabb, PhD

I am dedicated to working with online faculty at Elon University and pride myself on designing quality curriculum advocating instructional technology usage. My career in academia is focused on instructional design and development using integrated electronic media systems. I earned my Doctor of Philosophy in Instructional Systems Design and Development from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University while representing NASA’s Office of Education as their first Graduate Studies Research Program doctoral fellowship recipient.

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