[uf-new] course syllabus markup or microformat?

Jeremy Boggs jeremyboggs at gmail.com
Wed Oct 10 17:51:11 PDT 2007

On 10/7/07, Jeff McNeill <jeff at jeffmcneill.com> wrote:

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

There's no work AFAIK, but I'm interested in researching the topic.
I've thought a bit about it, and have implemented microformats in my
course websites. (I teach an undergraduate US History survey at George
Mason University).

Most of the content of your email seems like a good start for a
syllabi-examples wiki page, unless other in the Microformats community
think otherwise.

> 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.

One tool that might be useful for research is Syllabus Finder.[2] It
searches over 500,000 syllabi on Google.

>  * It appears that hCard, hCalendar, and citation/bibliographic
> microformats may be usefully deployed in this endeavor.

Agreed. I use hCard for my contact information. I use hCalendar for my
course schedule, and include a link to subscribe to the schedule. I
also mark up my reading assignments with citation microformat.[3]

Additionally, I use XOXO for my presentation slides, using Eric
Meyer's S5,[4] and hAtom for marking up my course weblog. My
presentations aren't in my syllabus per se, but are included in my
course website in general.

In other cases, I've used POSH, like adding class="assignment reading"
or class="assignment writing" for assignments and assignment types.

> Other efforts:
> * SylViA is a Berkeley iSchool masters project, but is specific only
> to one school:
> http://groups.sims.berkeley.edu/sylvia/docs/schema/syllabus_schema.xsd

Some friends and I have also developed a WordPress plugin, called
ScholarPress Courseware, that allows an instructor to add syllabus
content to a WordPress blog: contact information, schedules,
bibliographies, assignments. My course website uses this plugin. I
plan to release it soon, once I iron out the wrinkles and get over the
jitters of releasing a new plugin ;) If anyone's interested in trying
it out, feel free to contact me off-list.


[1] http://clioweb.org/courses/history120/fall07/
[2] http://chnm.gmu.edu/tools/syllabi/
[3] http://clioweb.org/courses/history120/fall07/schedule/.

Jeremy Boggs
Creative Lead, Center for History and New Media
George Mason University
4400 University Drive, MSN 1E7
Fairfax, VA 22030-4444

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