Recently we had a question about online syllabi and how they might differ from a syllabus that is designed for paper distribution. In early 2016, the Academic Affairs office distributed a new syllabus template that includes both required and suggested elements. You will notice that the syllabus template, as it stands, is intended to be modified and then distributed in paper form. If you would like to use this template to make an online version of your syllabus, consider making the following modifications:
- Convert the “raw” URL’s in the document to self-descriptive hyperlinks. This step will make the document more accessible to screen readers and programs like Read Write.
- Consider avoiding the “suggested” information that is campus or face-to-face specific such as information about video and audio recording of lectures as it is unnecessary in online courses.
- Ensure your final document contains proper headings by using the heading structure built into Word. By indicating that each section title (such as “How to Use This Syllabus,” and “Academic Honesty”) are tagged as “headings,” your online syllabus will be easily scannable by people using a screen reader.
- Save your document as a PDF, which will not require being downloaded in order to access it.
If you use the university or a departmental template, you are also given the opportunity to break your syllabus information out into pieces in the Course Specific Manual. If you choose to use the Course Specific Manual, you will find that a lot of the information repeats from the syllabus. This additional step is designed to help students find specific elements of your syllabus information fast and easily.