[uf-new] course syllabus markup or microformat?

Jeff McNeill jeff at jeffmcneill.com
Sun Oct 7 16:58:13 PDT 2007

Aloha everyone,

Wondering if there is any work on microformat or markup of a course
syllabus? Any and all suggestions solicited.

Problem statement:
 * Syllabi are a source of much labor by instructors and much
discussion and concern by students in higher education. Yet there
appears to be no standard format either within or across colleges,
disciplines, or courses. Reuse is based on copy-and-paste,
word-of-mouth and serendipitous use of Google. With over 2 million
undergraduate degrees awarded yearly in the United States alone, there
is a large and growing population which use this document format. With
the increasing demand for assessment of higher education (Spellings
report, etc.), the humble syllabus is gaining in prominence.

Initial information-gathering:
* A cursory review of 14 syllabi of a similar course (undergraduate
organizational communication), across a number of universities reveals
a large amount of common information.
 * It appears that hCard, hCalendar, and citation/bibliographic
microformats may be usefully deployed in this endeavor.

Other efforts:
* SylViA is a Berkeley iSchool masters project, but is specific only
to one school:

*  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syllabus includes the formulation:
> The syllabus serves many purposes for the students and the teacher such as 1) ensuring a fair and upfront contract between the instructor and students such that there is minimal confusion on policies relating to the course, 2) setting clear expectations of a) material to be learned, b) behavior in the classroom, and c) effort of student's behalf to be put into the course, 3) providing a roadmap of course organization/direction 4) relaying the instructor's teaching philosophy to the students, and 5) providing a marketing angle of the course such that students may choose early in the course whether the subject material is attractive.
> Many items can be included in a syllabus to maximize course organization and student understanding of expected material such as 1) grading policy (grading scale optional but helpful), 2) locations and times (classroom location/time, instructor office hours and location, teaching assistant office hours and location), 3) other contact information for instructor and teaching assistant such as phone or email, 4) materials required and/or recommended such as textbooks, assigned reading books, calculators (or other equipment), lab vouchers, etc 5) outside resources for subject material assistance (extra-curricular books, tutor locations, resource centers, etc), 6) important dates in course such as exams and paper due-dates 7) tips for succeeding in mastering course content such as study habits and expected time allotment, 8) suggested problems if applicable 9) necessary pre-requisites or co-requisites to current course, 10) safety rules if appropriate, and most importantly 11) objectives of course.

Jeff McNeill

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