Your syllabus is the linchpin of your course. A complete syllabus should establish student expectations and describe the course in fairly specific detail. When you are developing an eLearning course you may fear you are being too specific, but when you do not have face-to-face time with students, it is best to provide them with highly specific, process-focused information.
When developing an eLearning course, this document can be a vital tool in letting your students know about you on a personal level. Students appreciate an opportunity to get to know their instructor, even without the typical classroom setting. You may want to include:
- Personal introduction: One to two paragraphs about your educational background, professional interests, and/or accomplishments, and a paragraph about your hobbies, interests, or family.
- Specific contact information (postal address, telephone, email, fax, personal webpage).
If your students will be conducting significant work online, such as group discussions, quizzes, or assignment submissions, it is vital that your schedule be as integrated as possible, reflecting due dates, and where assignments should be submitted (e.g., in class, online via email by noon). You may choose to include a week-by-week run-down providing:
- A brief description of content to be covered including information about any special arrangements students must coordinate.
- Assignments for each week and deadlines for completion, timelines for discussions, etc.
- Examination dates including a description of type or style of exam and length and time needed to complete, with points/percentage value. Proctor information for exams administered off-campus.
Complete grading information
The biggest issue for students is knowing what they need to do in order to meet your expectations on assignments. Be specific! We recommend developing grading rubrics (additional information can be found in the Assessment section) to help communicate your criteria, which include:
- Possible points for each assignment, examination, student interaction, and class participation.
- Grading/passing scale, using points or percentages.
- Information providing advice concerning study techniques you feel might help students succeed (Note: encouragement and motivational comments are appropriate in this section).
A learning outcome is a statement that describes what knowledge, skills and values learners should have acquired by the end of a unit of instruction. Outcomes focus on what the students will know, do, or value when they exit the course, program or degree. Note that the focus is on the student rather than the teacher. These are not instructional objectives: they are statements describing the desired abilities of the student with respect to the discipline.
Refer to the section on Learning Outcomes for more information.