[uf-new] course syllabus markup or microformat?

Jeff McNeill jeff at jeffmcneill.com
Fri Dec 14 15:11:32 PST 2007

Hello Manas,

Great work you have done. I want to respond to the part about the
minimum components of a syllabus. First, I agree on the need for
users, activities and resources. I think those are the right terms.
However, I don't think they are enough.

Taking a paving-the-cowpaths and after analyzing 15 organizational
communication syllabi each taken from a different universities, it
seems that there are evaluation rubrics which are strongly
represented. By evaluation rubrics, the vast majority have a grading
scale (x = A, y = B), and have what I term grade partitioning (attend
= 20%, final = 40%, etc.). Many have activity evaluations embedded in
the syllabus (expectations for given activity types), and some have a
scoring guide for particular assignments.

In addition, if we take an institutional view, syllabi are embedded
within a larger context, namely professional communities of practice
and their bodies of knowledge. Your work connecting the syllabi to the
body of knowledge for computer science provides just such linkage. I
suggest the following nested assessment model from the larger point of

Bodies of knowledge
|	Programs
|	|	Courses
|	|	|	Syllabi
|	|	|	|	Activities
|	|	|	|	|	Resources
|	|	|	|	Assessment
|	|	|	Assessment
|	|	Assessment	
|	Assessment

Please see some initial markup of assessment rubrics using definition
lists and gaining insight from the hReview microformat (which I
believe can be usefully deployed to a large degree).


There are a few different ways that rubrics are represented. The
writing assessment rubric (above) is a single measure that we have
used at the University of Hawaii for freshmen composition placement.
However, there are rubrics which could be multi-criteria-scoring, e.g.
that would have each category be a definition term with a definition
list of scores and their descriptions.

Jeff McNeill

On 12/13/07, Manas Tungare <manas at tungare.name> wrote:
> Hi Jeff and Jeremy,
>  > Wondering if there is any work on microformat or markup of a course
>  > syllabus? Any and all suggestions solicited.
> I'm a Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech interested in this effort. We
> have been working towards this for some time now (not specifically
> microformats, but standard representations for syllabi and courses.)
> Our project web site is at http://syllabus.cs.vt.edu/ -- you're
> welcome to check it out.
> Right now we're at a phase where we have an extensive collection of
> syllabi along with a syllabus editor in development. We hope to be
> able to share the fruits of our labor with others by making available
> our collection in ways that others can use meaningfully. Microformats
> are one of the obvious choices.
> Here's a little bit of background about our work: we have crawled and
> analyzed close to 8000 syllabi from the Web, and played with the
> collection in many ways: we classified them based on the ACM Computing
> Curricula 2001 classification system; we tagged the information from a
> few syllabi manually to create a training set for an automatic
> extractor, and later put the extractor to use. Some of this work has
> been published at SIGCSE 2007, JCDL 2007, ECDL 2007 and AH 2006.
>  From our experience with these syllabi, we recently settled on an
> ontology that heavily reuses existing standards to represent a
> composite syllabus. It includes the most common attributes of syllabi
> (but not necessarily all). We're aiming for the concept of a course,
> which would be a superset of a syllabus. We believe that syllabi can
> be represented with three simple standard entities and relationships
> between them: people, resources and activities. Teachers, students,
> teaching assistants, textbook authors, etc. are the people involved
> and can be marked up as vCard/hCards. Textbooks, assignments, lecture
> slides, etc. are resources that can be marked up as Dublin Core.
> Lectures, tests, deadlines etc. are obviously events that have an
> associated time, and thus represented via hCalendar. (Actually, an
> activity = event + resources + people.)
> You can find a lot of examples of syllabi at our site, and I would
> gladly add the original URLs to a wiki page if this proposal goes
> forward. I would love to hear what this list feels about syllabi: are
> they general enough to warrant a microformat of their own? Can they be
> represented in another, more general microformat? Our team agrees with
> Jeff and Jeremy that the number of unstructured syllabi online,
> coupled with the potential for rich applications to be built if a
> standard existed, are both strong motivators to move this proposal
> forward.
> I have been following the public development of microformats for some
> time now, and have marked up my web site with hCard, hCalendar and
> hResume wherever appropriate. (http://manas.tungare.name/) I wish we
> are soon able to do the same for syllabi.
> --
> Regards, Manas.
> _____________________________________________________
>   Manas Tungare, http://manas.tungare.name/
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